Legislative roadblock to new EPA rules spurs research, complaints, and a veto threat

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Ahead of an anticipated Friday U.S. House vote on legislation that would mandate economic analyses of certain EPA clean-air regulations, dueling reports and political jockeying underscore one of Capitol Hill’s most hotly contested environmental battles this year.

The Obama administration has threatened to veto the “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts of the Nation” (TRAIN) Act. It is expected to pass the House, but could face challenges in the Senate. In a statement Wednesday, the White House said the contested EPA rules are “landmark public health regulations” and termed the TRAIN Act’s required economic impact reports “costly, unnecessary, and redundant.”

In a statement to The Daily Caller on Thursday, TRAIN Act sponsor Rep. John Sullivan, the Oklahoma Republican who sponsored the bill, accused the White House of killing jobs through excessive regulation. (RELATED: Obama officials play defense during ‘green jobs’ hearing)

“This President has shown time and time again he doesn’t understand that over-regulation kills private sector jobs,” said Sullivan.

The administration “was responsible for ZERO job growth in the month of August,” Rep. Sullivan added. “If President Obama was truly interested in passing a real jobs plan, this is a jobs bill he would have no problem supporting.”

National Economic Research Associates released a report Thursday that found the EPA rules at issue — known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule — would cost 183,000 jobs annually and significantly increase Americans’ energy costs. The rules, the report said, would cost the power industry $21 billion annually and reduce the average American family’s annual disposable income by $270.

The TRAIN Act would delay the implementation of those rules, which principally target reductions in power plant emissions, by requiring the president to establish a committee charged with analyzing the impact of EPA regulations on the domestic economy, and on America’s global economic competitiveness.

Rick Melberth, director of the regulatory group at the left-leaning OMB Watch, cheered the White House’s position in a statement to TheDC.

“The bill has nothing to do with transparency,” Melberth said, since “all of the scientific results are public already … [It] is a blatant attempt to stop regulations.”

Also on Thursday the U.S. Chamber of Commerce declared its support for the TRAIN Act. In a key vote letter sent to members of Congress, the Chamber argued that the EPA regulations in question are “one- sided, agenda-driven rules brought about by closed-door judicial settlements with special interest groups.”

The Chamber disputes the White House’s claim that economic impact statements required by the TRAIN Act would be redundant, and alleges that the EPA already ignores existing mandates to prepare such analyses.

Sullivan is not surprised that President Obama is threatening to veto the TRAIN Act. He told TheDC that the president “is the one pushing these costly burdensome EPA regulations in the first place.”

A House vote is expected Friday.

David Martosko contributed to this report.

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