UPDATE: Senate Democrats have cancelled the mark-up of the EPA budget reportedly because they were concerned that Republicans would offer an appropriations rider to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases (described in the article below).
By Steve Milloy
GreenHellBlog, September 14, 2010
The Senate has a chance to at least partially redeem the 111th Congress when the Appropriations Committee meets to vote on the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, September 16.
Two Committee Democrats, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), have indicated they may vote favorably on an appropriations rider that would block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions starting in January 2011.
Given the 18-12 Democrat-Republican split on the Committee, only two more Democrats would be needed (along with a unanimous Republican bloc) to stop the EPA from implementing the most sweeping, expensive and controversial environmental/energy/economic regulation in history.
Those two Democrats might not be hard to find given that Committee members Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted earlier in the year for the Murkowski resolution to block EPA regulation. And Committee member Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) is a co-sponsor of the Rockefeller proposal to delay EPA regulation for two years.
Why should the Appropriations Committee take the extraordinary step of reining in the EPA?
First, greenhouse gas regulation would necessarily impact the entire U.S. economy, as it would affect 70 percent of electricity generation and nearly 100 percent of transportation energy use. The totality of this impact demands that Congress, as opposed to a single and often controversial federal agency, address the issue.
Next, there is no serious dispute over the fact that greenhouse gas regulation will raise energy costs without providing any offsetting and near-term economic benefits. Given current economic conditions, making energy cost more will do nothing but further set back, if not reverse economic recovery. EPA has shown precious little concern for the real-world impacts of its impending regulations, so it’s time for the adults in Congress to step forward and assert authority over the EPA.
Third, there is a misconception among many on the Hill and in the public that that Supreme Court ordered to the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. Nothing could be further from the truth. In its 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision, the Court merely ruled that the EPA could, not that it must, regulate greenhouse gases. Evidence of the debatable nature of EPA regulation is that the Bush EPA opted not to regulate greenhouse gases while the Obama administration reversed that decision.
It is no secret that President Obama ordered the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases as a prod to get Congress and industry moving on greenhouse gas regulation. The Senate now has another chance (after the 51-47 defeat of the Murkowski resolution) to reassert Congress as the driver of this major domestic policy.
Moreover, the EPA may have acted illegally and usurped congressional authority by issuing its so-called “tailoring rule,” part of the suite of greenhouse gas regulations. Under the Clean Air Act, if the EPA decides to regulate a “pollutant,” then all sources that emit 250 tons annually of that pollutant must be regulated.
But the EPA has unilaterally decided to change the law for greenhouse gases. Over the course of the past year, the EPA has arbitrarily and without congressional authorization raised the threshold from 250 tons to 50,000 tons and then to 75,000-100,000 tons — otherwise the agency would find itself with the Herculean and unpopular task of regulating thousands of small businesses and apartment buildings.
If Senate Democrats want to take steps to stem the bleeding that seems likely to occur in November and perhaps beyond, they should remember that America has pretty much rejected the policy known as “cap-and-trade” and that EPA regulation of greenhouse gases amounts simply to “cap” — that is, all pain with no gain. Any politician that takes no action to stop that will be in deep trouble this fall and in 2012.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).