The AP is reporting that the Republican controlled House is expected to introduce legislation shortly that will strip all authority from U.S. EPA to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) under its existing authority in the Clean Air Act. This would specifically target the EPA’s endangerment finding and could possibly go as far as saying GHGs are not a "pollutant" under the Clean Air Act.
The soon introduced legislation will be very aggressive according to a recent AP article:
Officials said the House bill, which was to be offered Wednesday, would nullify all of the steps the EPA has taken to date on the issue, including a finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health.
In addition, it seeks to strip the agency of its authority to use the law in any future attempts to crack down on the emissions from factories, utilities and other stationary sources.
The House bill joins similar efforts in the Senate:
Republicans are attempting similar restrictions in the Senate, where the political situation is more complicated. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming has introduced a more sweeping measure than the one House Republicans are drafting. At the same time, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has proposed a two-year moratorium on EPA attempts to regulate greenhouse gases, a plan that already has attracted a handful of Democratic supporters.
It will be very difficult to pass through the Senate the aggressive measures that will likely be included in the House bill. Only the proposed 2 year delay of implementation is likely to pass the Senate. Even if something does pass, the legislative efforts appear futile based on comments in an article appearing in Politico from Lisa Jackson, U.S. EPA Administrator:
“What has been said from the White House is that the president’s advisers would advise him to veto any legislation that passed that would take away EPA’s greenhouse gas authority,” Jackson told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Nothing has changed.”
Any Room for Real Compromise?
During the State of the Union, President Obama announced a plan to mandate 80% of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2035. The President signaled a willingness to consider an expansive definition of "renewable energy" that would include nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. The President suggested financing energy projects by slashing $4 billion annually in government subsidies to oil and gas companies.
Many see the President’s proposal of a national renewable energy standard as a switch in strategy now that cap and trade is dead. While there was no mention of climate change in the President’s speech, the renewable standard is seen as, perhaps, less distasteful means of reducing GHGs. More importantly, it has some possibility of getting a few Republicans on board.
Republicans and the U.S. Chamber seem cool to the President’s plan. However, reality is that U.S. EPA has moved forward and will continue to implement new GHG regulations under its existing authority. The convoluted and complex rules need to prevented. (See, prior post Regulation under CAA "Absurd")
Perhaps a bill implementing a renewable energy standard offers a mechanism in which the Administration would find palatable a reduction or prohibition on EPA’s GHG regulatory authority. Before dismissing the President’s plan, similar to the tax deal, Republicans should see what they could get as part of a broader compromise. Because without compromise, EPA will continue to issue GHG regulations through 2012.