Bill to block EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions moves forward in House

The House Energy and Power subcommittee has scheduled a vote for Thursday on a bill that would block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide emissions.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act was formally introduced March 3 by Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee,  Ed Whitfield, Kentucky Republican, Collin Peterson, Minnesota Democrat, and Nick Rahall, West Virginia Democrat.

In a meeting with reporters Tuesday evening, lawmakers continued to frame the EPA-blocking bill as one that would halt the rise in gas and electricity prices and roll back what many see as an unprecedented power grab by the EPA.

“The last thing we need to do is raise energy prices as we stumble our way into recovery,” said Upton. “If [the regulations] go forward, you could see gas prices jump another 30 cents or so. That’s not something we need.”

Upton also dismissed concerns that the legislation is an all-out attack on the Clean Air Act, calling that argument a “red herring.”

Whitfield took a harder line with the EPA, saying “we want to send a message that Congress is reasserting itself into the environmental arena…that we’re not simply going to sit back and allow decisions to be made by courts and people who work in government, particularly when Congress has said ‘no’ on three occasions.”

This piece of legislation goes farther than any other bill that has been floated in recent months to deal with EPA regulations. Among other things, it would permanently stop the agency from implementing regulations specifically to stop climate change. It would also clarify that the Clean Air Act was not intended to address climate change at all.

Additionally, it would prevent California from getting special waivers to set their own emissions standards for tailpipes after 2017.

Republican Rep. John Sullivan of Oklahoma, who was also present at the meeting, rebuked the Obama administration for supporting regulations that would raise utility rates and gas prices.

“If something like this were to go into effect, every household in America would be taxed more,” said Sullivan. “This is an asinine thing to do right now.”

Upton also introduced a list of 21 new co-sponsors to the bill Tuesday night, all Republicans. When the bill was first introduced, it had three Democratic co-sponsors.

So far, there is no word as to when the full House will take up the measure.

When asked about the Senate version of the bill, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sullivan said he expected their mark-up to be sometime in April.

“But he’s got [Sen. Barbara] boxer to deal with!” exclaimed Sullivan.

Under the Democrat-controlled Senate, passage of the EPA-blocking bill is less than assured.