Congressional members draft plan to stop GHG emissions regulation

By Kris Bevill | February 04, 2011

Several Republican Congressional members have begun floating legislation that would prevent the U.S. EPA from implementing greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. Reps. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Ed Whitfield, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, along with Sen. James Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released a discussion draft titled “The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011” on Feb. 2 and have scheduled a subcommittee hearing to review the draft on Feb. 9.

The congressmen said in a joint statement that the discussion draft is part of a deliberative process to stop the EPA’s implementation of its Tailoring Rule, which established thresholds for GHG emissions and defines when permits are required for new and existing industrial facilities. The first of the three-phase regulatory measure came into effect on Jan. 2, requiring only those sources that would be required to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits anyway to participate in the program. The second phase of regulations will come into play on July 1 and will require existing facilities that emit at least 100,000 metric tons per year of GHG emissions from stationary sources to obtain operating permits. It is believed that most large ethanol facilities will become required participants of the program at this phase.

“With this draft proposal, we are initiating a deliberative, transparent process that we hope will prevent EPA from imposing by regulation the massive cap-and-trade tax that Congress rejected last year,” the congressmen said in a joint statement. The trio claims the EPA’s regulations will have negligible effects on the climate and will negatively affect the nation’s job market. In addition to preventing the EPA from enforcing its Tailoring Rule, the bill would also prevent the EPA administrator from enforcing tailpipe emissions standard for vehicle models beginning in 2017.  

The Union of Concerned Scientists said blocking the EPA from implementing its GHG emissions regulations would be a detriment to public health and the environment. “This legislation is an egregious example of serving the interests of major polluters at the expense of science, the public health and common sense,” said Kevin Knobloch, president of the group. “The Clean Air Act has protected the health of Americans for decades. It clearly says that when scientists identify a pollutant that threatens public health and welfare, the government must act. But now Rep. Upton, working at the behest of oil companies and other big polluters, wants the government to shirk that responsibility.”

The EPA has so far weathered attempts to block its authority to regulate GHG emissions. Its actions have received support from President Barack Obama, who has stated he would veto any legislation attempting to prevent the EPA from regulating GHG emissions.