Efforts by EPA to Regulate Carbon Could be Undermined by House Bills

Published on
by
Reuters

Efforts by EPA to Regulate Carbon Could be Undermined by House Bills

House Bill Would Prevent EPA Regulating Carbon

by
Charles Abbott

WASHINGTON - With congressional action on climate
legislation in doubt, two House committee chairmen have filed a bill to
block the government from regulating greenhouse gases under its own
power.

The lawmakers say Congress, not "unelected bureaucrats," should set
environmental policy. Congress has squabbled for months over a
comprehensive climate change bill. Some members say the best bet is to
encourage renewable energy production.

The Environmental Protection Agency cleared the way for regulation
under air pollution laws a month ago, when it ruled that greenhouse
gases endanger human health. EPA could act as early as March to offer
regulations.

Efforts were being made in both chambers of Congress to derail EPA
regulation. It normally takes months for Congress to agree on
legislation.

Besides blocking EPA regulation of six gases, including carbon
dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, blamed for global warming, the
House bill, which was filed on Tuesday, would remove two roadblocks to
greater use of biofuels.

The bill, which would face a tough fight in Congress and be opposed
by the president, would adopt a broad definition of biomass --
including crops, trees, algae and manure -- that can be used in making
renewable fuels.

It also would bar EPA, when it calculates if biofuels are cleaner
than petroleum, from holding U.S. fuels responsible for forest clearing
and cropland expansion overseas.

Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, the lead sponsor,
said the House bill "gets EPA under control" and strengthens
American-made renewable fuels.

"I have no confidence that the EPA can regulate greenhouse gases
under the Clean Air Act without doing serious damage to our economy,"
said Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. Peterson and Rep.
Jo Ann Emerson are cosponsors.

Critics say federal attempts to constrain emissions of greenhouse
gases will result in higher petroleum prices and retard U.S. growth.

An administration analysis says 6 percent of U.S. crop and
pastureland would be converted to woodlands, resulting in slightly
higher food prices, under the House-passed climate bill.

At least one other bill, also with three sponsors, was pending in the House to block EPA regulation of carbon dioxide.

In the Senate, Lisa Murkowski spearheaded a resolution to block EPA
regulation. She is supported by at least 39 of the 100 senators.

"We are continuing to work on our votes," Murkowski said on Tuesday.
Asked when she might ask for a vote, Murkowski said, "Somewhere between
now and the next couple months."

Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Walter Bagley

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