CLIMATE:

House Democrat bids to block EPA regs

North Dakota Democrat Earl Pomeroy has introduced a House bill aimed at blocking U.S. EPA regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

The legislation marks the latest in a series of efforts to limit EPA's ability to curb heat-trapping emissions, but it is the first to be spearheaded by a Democrat.

Pomeroy's measure would strip EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions unless the agency was provided explicit authority to do so from Congress.

"Regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the current provisions of the Clean Air Act is irresponsible and just plain wrong," Pomeroy said in a statement. "I am not about to let some Washington bureaucrat dictate new public policy that will raise our electricity rates and put at risk the thousands of coal-related jobs in our state."

The Obama administration last month issued a final determination that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, and EPA is expected to issue greenhouse gas standards for light-duty vehicles by March. Once those standards are final, greenhouse gases will officially become regulated pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and large stationary sources will be required to install the best available pollution control technologies.

"However," said the statement from Pomeroy's office, "current control technologies and measures are either unproven or incredibly expensive and could, in effect, make new coal facilities impossible to build."

North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives Executive Vice President and General Manager Dennis Hill said Pomeroy's bill is in line with his group's position that Congress should be in charge of setting the policy on climate change legislation.

“We've been working with our congressional delegation to adopt provisions in a comprehensive climate change bill that achieve carbon reductions at a pace that's fair, affordable and achievable," Hill said. "We believe any climate legislation should make clear that Congress, not the EPA, sets the policy on carbon."

Senate and House Republicans have recently announced several other efforts to block or limit EPA's regulatory authority. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) could offer an amendment on the Senate floor as soon as Jan. 20 to limit EPA's climate regulations, although it remains unclear what the amendment would entail or whether she will seek a vote.

Murkowski may also pursue a resolution that would retroactively veto EPA's endangerment finding (E&ENews PM, Jan. 4). House Republicans have also announced plans to introduce a formal resolution disapproving the endangerment finding (Greenwire, Dec. 17, 2009).

Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon said Pomeroy's bill is a signal that there is bipartisan support to block EPA regulations. "It shows that it's not just a partisan move, that there is legitimate concern about the damage EPA regulations could have on the economy and that the concern crosses party lines," he said.

Daniel Weiss, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said it is important to note that the North Dakota Democrat was among 44 House Democrats to vote against the climate and energy bill that cleared the chamber in June.

"Representative Pomeroy is already on record in opposition to helping farmers grow their income from global warming legislation," Weiss said, adding that farmers could earn revenue through offsets and by renting land for wind turbines under the climate bill.

Click here to read the bill.

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