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Republicans Eye 'Rarely Used' Instrument to Block EPA GHG Regulation

When they return this month, top House and Senate Republicans said they will seek action on "disapproval resolutions" that are aimed at blocking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS) already has introduced legislation, known as a disapproval resolution, that provides a process -- authorized under the Congressional Review Act of 1996 -- through which Congress can invalidate regulations that it believes exceed an agency's authority. "He [Moran] jumped the gun with his measure. It won't be the [Republican] leadership bill" in the House, said a Capitol Hill source.

The House Republican leadership vehicle will be a "disapproval resolution" to be introduced by Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and other high-profile Republicans when Congress returns following the holidays in January, said committee spokesman Larry Neal.

House and Senate Republicans are seeking to nullify the EPA's finding in early December that carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare. This finding, Republicans and other critics say, sets the stage for the agency to more stringently regulate emissions even if Congress fails to enact climate change legislation (see NGI, Dec.14, 2009).

The resolution of disapproval is a "rarely used instrument," Neal noted. EPA regulation of GHG emissions could effectively be "negated" if the disapproval resolution is ratified by the House, according to Neal.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also has pledged to file a "disapproval resolution" to stop the EPA's efforts to regulate GHG emissions under the CAA.

Upon introduction, Murkowski's disapproval resolution will be referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. If not acted upon by the committee in 20 days, Murkiowsk's got more than the 30 votes needed to force her resolution out of committee, said Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon. He further noted that the disapproval resolution can't be filibustered since it only requires 50 votes to get through the Senate. However, the resolution could be vetoed by President Obama, which would take a two-thirds majority in the Senate to override.

"EPA regulation must be taken off the table so that we can focus on more responsible approaches to dealing with global climate change," Murkowski said. "Make no mistake -- Congress is being threatened in a misguided attempt to move a climate bill forward...This administration should be able to work with this Congress to pass needed, common-sense and transparent reforms to our energy and environmental policies."

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio called the EPA finding on GHG regulation a job-killer. "For the sake of American families and small businesses, it should be stopped right now. If the Obama administration continues down this path, it will destroy more jobs and have a devastating impact on our economy.

"This EPA rule amounts to a backdoor national energy tax on every American who drives a car, flips on a light switch or buys a product manufactured in the United States."

Boehner thanked a number of House Republicans -- Barton; Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, ranking member of the Judicial Committee; Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, ranking member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming; Rep. Darrell Issa of California, ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee; and Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- for their work on the "disapproval resolution" to be introduced when Congress returns in January.

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