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House, Senate Move Forward to Rein in EPA, Eliminate Burdensome Regulations

Lawmakers in both chambers of the Republican-controlled Congress are moving forward with legislation designed to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and eliminate rules perceived as ineffective and creating burdensome paperwork.

On Monday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced a pair of bills that would affect the EPA. The first, S 452 -- also known as the "Ozone Regulatory Delay and Extension of Assessment Length" (ORDEAL) Act of 2017 -- calls for amending the Clean Air Act by delaying the enforcement and implementation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone until Jan. 1, 2025. The bill also calls for changing the interval for review of the standards from five to 10 years.

The EPA strengthened NAAQS for ground-level ozone from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb in 2015.

A second bill, S 453, would apply to any proposed rule that limits greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If the rule imposes increased costs to other federal agencies, the EPA administrator would be required to offset the increase by reducing funds available to the EPA.

"Arizona ratepayers and businesses shouldn't be forced shoulder the burden of EPA's costly, convoluted regulations," Flake said. "By holding EPA accountable for its actions, we can keep our air clean without creating job-killing regulatory uncertainty."

Both of Flake's bills were referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Meanwhile, three additional bills are moving forward in the House.

Lawmakers agreed to add four amendments to HR 998 on Tuesday. The bill, also known as the "Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome" (SCRUB) Act, calls for establishing a temporary commission tasked with reviewing rules that meet certain criteria for possible repeal.

Specifically, the Retrospective Regulatory Review Commission (RRRC) would have nine members appointed by the president and exist for five years and 180 days after the bill's passage. According to the bill, the RRRC would focus on reviewing major rules that have been in effect for more than 15 years, yet impose a burdensome amount of paperwork and high costs on business. Under HR 998, the RRRC's goal would be to reduce the cumulative costs of federal regulation by at least 15%.

The second bill under consideration, HR 1004, would require federal agencies to publish information about pending regulatory action within 24 hours and make it available to the public, either on the agency's website or in the rulemaking docket on the website regulations.gov. The bill would not affect notices published in the Federal Register.

A third bill,HR 1009, would require the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to form a Regulatory Working Group to review regulations on at least a quarterly basis. According to the text of the bill, the group would be tasked with developing "innovative regulatory techniques...methods, efficacy and utility of comparative risk assessment in regulatory decision making...and streamlined regulatory approaches for small businesses and other entities."

HR 998 was introduced in the House on Feb. 9, while HR 1004 and HR 1009 were introduced on Feb. 13. All three bills were reported to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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