Barrasso's bill would require congressional nod to limit GHGs

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 2 -- US Sen. John A. Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a member of both the Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works committees, introduced a bill to keep federal agencies from imposing restrictions to limit greenhouse gas emissions to address global climate change without congressional authorization. Ten other Senate Republicans are cosponsors.

“It’s time for the administration to face the facts: Americans rejected cap-and-trade because they know it means higher energy prices and lost jobs,” Barrasso said as he offered the measure on Jan. 31. “Washington agencies are now trying a backdoor approach to regulate our climate by abusing existing laws. Congress must step in and stand up for the American people.”

Similar other bills aimed at stopping or delaying the US Environmental Protection Agency’s imposition of regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act appear likely in the 112th Congress. EPA has said that it is doing this in response to a 2007 US Supreme Court decision. US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) tried to stop EPA last session by parliamentary means, while Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) proposed a 2-year delay to give federal lawmakers time to develop appropriate requirements.

Barrasso said his bill would necessarily prohibit application of GHG requirements under the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Protection Act as well as the CAA, with two exceptions: Regulations for cars and trucks would continue, but be managed by the US Department of Transportation instead of EPA. And any GHG which threatened human health because of direct exposure could still be regulated, but not solely on the basis of climate change. “This provision would ensure that polluters of health threatening gases would still be held accountable under the law,” the senator said.

The measure would not preempt states from enacting GHG or climate change mandates, according to Barrasso. He said that Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, the Western Business Roundtable, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Freedom Action, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association endorse the bill.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, responded that the measure would undermine landmark environmental laws which protect the public from carbon pollution.

“Since President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act in 1970, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have worked together to protect American families from dangerous pollution,” she maintained. “The Republican effort now to turn their back on the health of the American people will be resisted by those of us who believe it is our responsibility to make life better for the people we serve.”

Contact Nick Snow at

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