For the second time this week, legislative language has been offered on Capitol Hill to strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of authority to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

A "discussion draft" was floated Wednesday by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Ed Shitfield (R-KY) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

Significantly, the draft seeks to amend the CAA to prohibit the administrator of the EPA from using powers under the act to address climate change.

The draft also calls for the repeal of the EPA's endangerment finding, which held that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHG emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare (see Daily GPI, Dec. 8, 2009). This laid the groundwork for the EPA to more stringently regulate emissions from power plants, refineries, factories and vehicles -- even if Congress failed to enact climate change legislation.

"The draft legislation is based on the belief that Congress, not EPA bureaucrats, should be in charge of setting America's climate change policy," the three lawmakers said in a statement.

"With this draft proposal, we are initiating a deliberative, transparent process that we hope will prevent EPA from imposing by regulation the massive cap-and-trade tax that Congress rejected last year. We firmly believe federal bureaucrats should not be unilaterally setting national climate change policy," they said.

On Monday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced broad legislation that seeks to block the Obama administration's regulation of GHG emissions from stationary sources without specific authorization from Congress. (see Daily GPI, Feb. 1).

The debate over the EPA's authority over GHG emissions promises to be a divisive issue in the 112th Congress.

The Barrasso bill would halt the EPA's efforts to regulate GHG emissions under the CAA, Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. The legislation also would preclude legal actions against sources of greenhouse gases solely based on their possible contribution to climate change.

The bill would allow for the continuation of regulation of mobile sources such as cars and trucks, but by the Department of Transportation, not the EPA. Also, the measure stipulated than any greenhouse gas that is a direct threat to human health would still be regulated, just not solely based on climate change.

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