Updated: December 3, 2010 at 12:00 am
Congressional Republicans, emboldened by the party’s midterm election victories, promise to force up-or-down votes on many economically harmful regulations planned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“We’re not going to let EPA regulate what they’ve been unable to legislate,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., told Politico.com. Upton, who hopes in the new Congress in January to become chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and other key Republicans will seek to block or effectively nullify controversial regulations.
The strategy is multifaceted and includes invoking the rarely used Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to essentially veto newly drafted regulations without obtaining the difficult 60-vote approval usually needed for Senate action. The House, now controlled by Republicans, is expected to support GOP senators.
Republicans expect several Democrats to join them, a key to overcoming presidential vetoes. “Democrats received the message loud and clear about the Obama agenda” sent by voters in November, a spokesman for Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said.
The looming showdown focuses on new regulations for air quality, toxic emissions and a decision on whether to regulate coal ash as a hazardous material. Republicans won’t be limited to the Congressional Review Act, which has been used successfully once since adoption in 1996 to overturn a Clinton administration economic rule.
The GOP also is expected to force the administration to obtain congressional approval before major rule changes can take effect. Moreover, says Politico, “a popular strategy in both chambers next year will be to choke off funding for contentious EPA regulations, including efforts to address global warming.”
The Obama administration, despite having a Democratic-controlled Senate, scrapped its cap-and-trade legislation to impose added costs and place limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The Senate in January will have six more Republicans, cutting the Democratic edge to 53-47, making legislative success even less likely for the administration.
Administration critics have expected the EPA to impose administratively what the White House couldn’t achieve legislatively. But with newly won control of the House and bolstered strength in the Senate, Republicans now will try to block administrative regulatory efforts as well.
The GOP shouldn’t dally. The EPA announced this week it will provide power companies and states new instructions for regulating greenhouse gases. Beginning Jan. 2, the EPA plans to start requiring big emitters such as power plants, refineries and cement manufacturers to obtain permits for polluting greenhouse gases.
A study by the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI warned that new standard alone would destroy 7.3 million jobs nationwide and add $1 trillion a year in regulatory costs.
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Other key findings in the report:
• GDP would be reduced by $676.8 billion in 2020 (in 2010 dollars), an amount that represents 3.6 percent of projected 2020 GDP in the baseline case (2.5 percent annual GDP growth)
• Job jeopardy and the impacts of the new ozone standard are largest in states where there is considerable manufacturing and refining activity. The states with the largest job losses would include: Texas, which would lose nearly 1.7 million jobs at a total attainment cost and reduction in GDP of $452 billion (in 2010 dollars); Louisiana, which would lose 983,000 jobs at a cost of $270 billion; Illinois, which would lose 396,000 jobs at a cost of $98 billion; and Pennsylvania, which would lose 351,000 jobs at a cost of $86 billion.
A lobbyist for two major power companies told Bloomberg News that the new edicts mean “the energy and manufacturing sector will essentially be in a construction moratorium.”
— From the Orange County Register, a Freedom Communications newspaper