CLIMATE:

House GOP to launch another salvo at EPA emission rules

Top House Republicans tomorrow will launch the second congressional effort in a week aimed at preventing U.S. EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and other key Republicans plan to unveil a formal resolution that would effectively veto EPA's "endangerment" finding. That determination, issued last December, finds that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare, and allows EPA to move forward with a suite of rules aimed at curbing those emissions.

The House GOP measure currently has 79 Republican co-sponsors, according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican office. Republican Reps. Mike Pence of Indiana, Joe Barton of Texas, Darrell Issa of California, Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee will join Boehner at a news conference tomorrow to officially announce their bid to limit EPA's regulatory authority.

Barton, ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, warned last December that the endangerment finding "has policy implications that threaten serious damage to the economy for generations to come."

"Congress has the right and the responsibility to nullify the decisions of the bureaucracy when they run counter to the people's interests," Barton added, "and a formal Resolution of Disapproval is fully warranted in this instance."

The resolution will mirror the controversial measures introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and several House Democrats. Murkowski has been working to drum up congressional support for her resolution since she first announced it last year. House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) are spearheading another House resolution introduced last week (Greenwire, Feb. 26).

"We expected leadership to introduce a companion piece to Senator Murkowski's," said Robert Dillon, the Alaska senator's spokesman. "I think it's just more evidence of growing support -- bipartisan support."

Murkowski's office says the senator has 41 Senate co-sponsors for the measure, including three moderate Democrats. The resolution would need 51 votes to clear the chamber. The senator is likely to seek a vote in mid-March, according to Dillon, before EPA is expected to finalize its pending rules for mobile and stationary sources of greenhouse gases.

The resolutions are aimed at unraveling EPA's finding using the Congressional Review Act, which establishes special procedures for disapproving regulations from federal agencies. If the disapproval resolution became law, it would block the endangerment finding from taking effect. Also, EPA would be prohibited from reissuing that rule or any substantially similar one without the authority of another enacted law, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Still, observers on and off Capitol Hill expect that efforts to block EPA using the Congressional Review Act would face an uphill battle clearing the Democratic-led Congress and would face a veto from President Obama.

In the Senate, the resolution can circumvent the Environment and Public Works Committee with the backing of 30 senators. The resolution would then be placed on the Senate calendar, where it would be subject to expedited consideration on the floor and not subject to a filibuster.

The House cannot use the same expedited procedure as the Senate, but House lawmakers can use a discharge motion to bypass the committee of jurisdiction and bring the resolution to the floor.

Under House rules, co-sponsors need 218 signatures to send the discharge motion to the "discharge calendar." Once it has been added to the calendar, the motion can be adopted with a simple majority and the House can immediately consider the disapproval resolution, which would come to the floor in the form introduced with no amendments and no written report.

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