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House Bill Seeks to Block EPA Regulation of GHGs

Three House lawmakers last week introduced legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the authority of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and to strengthen the U.S. renewable fuels industry.

The legislation was unveiled on Tuesday by cosponsors Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO).

"Simply put, we cannot tolerate turning over the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to unelected bureaucrats at [the] EPA. America's energy and environmental policies should be set by Congress," Skelton said.

"I have no confidence that [the] EPA can regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act without severe harm to all taxpayers," said Peterson. "I'm proud to help sponsor this bill because if Congress doesn't do something soon, the EPA is going to cram these regulations through all on their own."

The legislation would amend the CAA to make clear that it does not allow for regulation of GHG emissions as it relates to global climate change, would amend the 2007 energy bill to block the EPA from considering GHG emissions from international "indirect" land-use changes when implementing the renewable fuel standard, and would broaden the definition of renewable biomass.

On the Senate side, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) last month took the rare step of introducing a "disapproval resolution" to block the EPA's efforts to regulate GHG emissions under the CAA (see NGI, Jan. 25).

The bipartisan resolution was backed by three Democrats -- Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana -- and by 35 Republicans, according to Murkowski. The resolution of disapproval is a rarely used instrument by Congress. It has been attempted only twice in the past -- once successfully. EPA regulation of GHG emissions could effectively be negated if Murkowski's disapproval resolution is ratified. Murkowski stepped up her efforts in late December to combat the EPA's endangerment finding, which held that carbon dioxide and GHG emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare.

Murkowski can bring the "disapproval resolution" up at any time on the Senate floor for a vote, but she plans to wait for Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts to be seated before doing so, said spokesman Robert Dillon. Brown was scheduled to be sworn in last Thursday. The resolution would only require 51 votes to pass the Senate, but it is much less likely to receive a favorable vote in the House, where leaders are strong supporters of GHG regulations.

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