House passes Upton's bill to halt EPA's GHG regulations

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 7 -- The US House approved Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) bill aimed at halting the US Environmental Protection Agency’s imposition of greenhouse gas limits under the Clean Air Act by 225 to 172. The Apr. 7 action came a day after the US Senate cast a 50-to-50 tie vote on a similar bill, just 10 votes short of what was required for approval (OGJ Online, Apr. 7, 2011).

“Our thoughtful, bipartisan solution reins in an EPA gone wild whose bureaucrats are oblivious to the nation’s economic woes and soaring unemployment,” Upton said following the House’s vote. “EPA’s regulatory bonanza will cause already soaring gasoline prices to rise even higher as refiners are caught in the EPA’s web of costly regulations.”

National Petrochemical & Refiners Association Pres. Charles T. Drevna called the House’s passage of the bill an important victory. “In just the few short months that EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations have been in place, thousands of American jobs have already been lost because businesses have decided they simply can’t afford to expand their operations under the existing regulatory environment,” he said in a statement.

“If EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations are allowed to continue unchecked, millions more jobs may be lost as American manufacturing and economic activity shift overseas,” Drevna warned.

House Democrats who opposed Upton’s bill said that the results were meaningless since the Senate did not pass a similar measure on Apr. 6 which Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Minority Member James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) co-sponsored. Inhofe and Upton released a draft of their bills at a joint press conference on Feb. 4 and offered the measures on Mar. 3.

Reason for bills
The bills responded to EPA’s development of regulations to control GHGs under the CAA in response to a 2007 US Supreme Court decision stating that the agency had the authority and obligation to do so. Congressional Democrats and Republicans initially said that this actually was their responsibility but could not agree on how to do it. EPA began implementing its new GHG rules in early January with a so-called tailoring rule directed at refiners and other large manufacturers which the agency says emit the most carbon dioxide.

In a statement following the House’s vote, American Petroleum Institute Executive Vice President Marty Durbin urged US President Barack Obama to work with the bipartisan coalitions on both sides of the Capitol to resolve the problem.

“The American people want our elected officials to focus on job creation and economic recovery,” Durbin said. “This bipartisan effort in both the House and the Senate will help keep that focus by preventing the EPA from creating stringent new requirements and injecting uncertainty into the permitting process for new construction projects.”

Bill Kovacs, senior vice-president of environment, technology, and regulatory affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that the nation’s largest business organization agrees with what it considers strong bipartisan votes in both houses of Congress that federal lawmakers, and not EPA, need to determine the CAA’s scope.

“We urge both chambers in Congress to resolve the extent of EPA’s authority to regulate [GHGs] under the [CAA] by establishing a clear congressional policy that brings about regulatory certainty,” Kovacs said. “Allowing EPA to impose this expansive set of regulations would hurt the economy, cost jobs, and harm America's competitiveness.”

Contact Nick Snow at

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