Does GHG Stand for “Go! Halt! Go!”?: Bill that would block EPA’s GHG regulations passes House committee

CongressAs I am sure you already guessed, the answer to my silly question in the title to this post is “no”… but it sure seems like that could be the case recently! Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill, known as the “Energy Tax Prevention Act” proposed by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) by defining GHGs out of the jurisdiction of the Clean Air Act.

Not only that, but the bill would also repeal all of EPA’s past actions related to climate change, including the following:

• the December 7, 2009 Endangerment Finding under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, stating that the current and projected concentrations of the six key GHGs in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations (click here and here for more information); and
• the Tailoring Rule issued on May 13, 2010 which set GHG emissions thresholds to define when permits under the New Source Review Prevention Significant Deterioration and title V Operating Permit programs are required for new and existing industrial facilities (click here for more information).

The only EPA GHG rule that would stand under the bill would be that relating to light duty motor vehicles.

Proponents of the bill, including Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), accuse the Obama administration of “trying to regulate what they can’t legislate” and say that without it, gasoline and other energy prices will be driven higher. On the other hand, opponents, like Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), say that the bill puts “the interests of politicians and big polluters ahead of the advice of medical experts and scientists who tell us EPA must act to make the air safer and cleaner for our children to breathe.”

The vote, not surprisingly, was mainly along party lines, with all Republicans and three Democrats voting in favor. The bill is expected to go in front of the full House before the spring recess, where it is expected to pass. However, it is unknown whether it will pass the Senate where it will be competing with a few other GHG related bills including one which would preempt any federal regulation of GHGs (not just under the Clean Air Act) and one, proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), which would prevent EPA GHG regulation for two years. President Obama has indicated that he would veto any legislation to stop EPA’s climate change rules.