After weeks of talk, legislation was introduced into the House and Senate Thursday afternoon to repeal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations of greenhouse gases, or what proponents are calling “backdoor cap-and-trade.” The Energy Tax Prevention Act clarifies the EPA’s authority to regulate gases like carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, among others. It even had at least two Democratic co-sponsors – Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Nick Rahall of West Virginia.
The companion bill in the Senate was introduced by Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, ranking member on the Committee on Environment and Public Works. The Senate version has 42 co-sponsors, all Republican.
“Whether at the pump or on their monthly utility bills, American families, farmers, and employers feel the pinch when energy prices go up,” said Upton in a statement. “The very last thing the federal government should do is make matters worse by intentionally driving up the cost of energy. Yet that is exactly what’s in store if the EPA moves forward with its plans to regulate and penalize carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act,”
“The EPA needs to be reined in. If Congress does not do something about the regulations being imposed on our farmers, ranchers and rural communities, the economic effects could be devastating,” added Peterson.
The bill’s introduction has already been met with praise from some in the industry.
“The EPA’s sweeping regulations will affect the lives of millions of Americans, from their electricity bills to the economy as a whole,” said Steve Miller, president and CEO of American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “Given this wide-ranging impact, it is important that Congress – not the EPA – address greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that takes into consideration both environmental and economic impacts.”
Opposition, however, is painting the legislation as one that threatens public health. David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center, said “This proposal to block the EPA from updating health protections is only the latest example of an overreach by some lawmakers…. No one who cares about our health, the health of the economy and the health of our planet should support this bill.”
The legislation is expected to easily pass the House. In the Senate, the bill’s passage will be more difficult and likely depend on moderate Democrats.