EPA blocking legislation

Republicans and a few Democrats in the U.S. Congress are backing proposed legislation that would keep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases.

Matching bills by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, both Republicans, would bar the EPA from mandating emissions limits from factories and power plants. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he would co-sponsor Upton’s bill.

“This bill puts Congress in charge of deciding our nation’s climate change policy, not EPA bureaucrats,” Inhofe said in a Bloomberg article.

Some power generation executives feel that GHG regulations do not need to be taken off the table. Ralph Izzo, chief executive officer of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. told Bloomberg he was concerned that Congress will take away EPA’s power and then do nothing.

“I’d much rather see Congress itself address greenhouse gases than have the EPA do it,” Izzo said. “My fear is Congress doesn’t address the issue and then the courts step in and make our life even crazier.”

NextEra Energy chairman and CEO Lewis Hay said he did not support complete preemption of EPA’s rules.

“When I look at what EPA has done so far and the position they’ve taken on greenhouse gases, I think it’s actually been pretty moderate,” Hay said in The Washington Post.

Michael Morris, president and CEO of AEP, said he thought the proposed bill was “a bit strong.”

This comes as the Obama Administration proposed cutting EPA’s budget by 13 percent, or $1.3 billion, to $8.97 billion in fiscal year 2012. The proposed budget also calls for $25 million to help states implement the EPA rules aimed at curbing emissions.

Republicans, however, proposed a 30 percent cut, or $3 billion, along with preventing EPA from regulating GHGs. The rules went into effect Jan. 2.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies about the budget cuts, saying they would be “detrimental to public health.”

“If Congress ever gutted that funding, then EPA would be unable to implement or enforce the laws that protect Americans’ health, livelihoods and pastimes,” Jackson said. “And the standards that EPA is set to establish for harmful pollutants from smokestacks and tailpipes would remain missing from a population of sources that is not static but growing.”

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