Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) is trying to rally state opposition to U.S. EPA's forthcoming regulation of greenhouse gases.
A former utility lobbyist and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Barbour is asking members of the National Governors Association's natural resource committee to urge Congress to block the rules.
This week, Barbour circulated among the governors a draft letter to Congress encouraging lawmakers to pass a resolution to stop EPA from enacting "costly greenhouse gas regulations" under the Clean Air Act.
"This is something that Governor Barbour feels like is important," Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said. "He wanted to discuss it with his colleagues and hoped that they would see it as being important as well and would weigh in on it."
Turner added that the letter is only a draft, "just something to throw out there on the table."
Barbour is planning to discuss the letter with his colleagues this weekend as the National Governors Association holds its annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C. "The point is to spark the discussion," Turner said, "and if the NGA deems it worthy, then they may very well want to do something on it."
Barbour's campaign comes as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) prepares to seek a floor vote next month on her resolution to veto EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare; the finding opens the door for regulating greenhouse gases. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is planning to introduce a companion House resolution.
Neither measure is expected to clear the chambers, which are controlled by Democrats, and if they did, they would face a likely White House veto. President Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs said this week that the White House won't support such legislation. "EPA," he said, "is doing what they were instructed to do as a result of a lawsuit by states to regulate those dangerous gases."
Barbour's draft letter was distributed along with a document from a coalition of 27 House Republicans who call themselves the "American Energy Solutions Group" that warns of devastating economic consequences of EPA rules.
The group warns that EPA regulation is "simply a national energy tax that will raise costs for consumers and ship jobs overseas during a recession."
Turner said the letter was not coordinated with House Republicans. The document, he said, was enclosed as "additional material to further summarize some of Governor Barbour's concerns."
EPA is expected to unveil its first greenhouse gas standards for automobiles next month, a rule that will automatically trigger greenhouse gas regulations for large industrial sources under the Clean Air Act.
Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, said it came as no surprise that Barbour was lobbying governors to handcuff EPA climate rules.
Barbour has "a long and documented history of persuading the Bush administration from doing anything on global warming," O'Donnell said. In 2001, Barbour sent a memo to then-Vice President Dick Cheney urging the Bush administration to renege on promises to control carbon dioxide emissions, the Los Angeles Times reported. Within weeks, the Bush administration changed its position on early promises to address global warming.
"It's totally consistent with his past record, which is, he clearly thinks that doing something about climate is a bad idea," O'Donnell said. "I think it represents backwards, antiquated thinking that embodies the Murkowski resolution in the first place, because it tries to pretend that there's been no science."
O'Donnell said Barbour may be able to get support from some of the leaders of more conservative states. Several states have already signaled opposition to EPA's endangerment finding, including three that petitioned a federal appeals court this week to reconsider the final determination.
Alabama, Texas and Virginia filed lawsuits this week challenging EPA's finding. A coalition of 16 other states and New York City also asked to intervene on behalf of EPA in the endangerment case. The states seeking to intervene are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Click here to read the draft letter.
Click here to read the document from the House Republicans energy group.