As expected, House Republicans got straight to work last week fighting against new EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.
On Thursday, they introduced several bills that aim to take the wind out of the EPA's sails. The bills introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WVA) would affect the EPA in different ways, according to the Associated Press.
Poe's bill would disallow any funding to regulate greenhouse gases. And Blackburn's bill would change the Clean Air Act to remove the EPA's authority to regulate the gases. Neither of these bills would likely make it through the Democrat-controlled Senate and would probably be voted by the President.
However, Moore's bill--which would delay the EPA's regulations by two years--has a chance. Several moderate Democrats support the notion, including Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who is actively working with Republicans to delay the new regulations. He told Politico on Wednesday he is close to having 60 votes.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) chairman of the House panel that crafts Environmental Protection Agency spending bills, said in a statement, “The EPA is the scariest agency in the federal government, an agency run amok."
House Republicans are also considering employing the Congressional Review Act to block the EPA, but this might not be an option. A resolution of disapproval under the act can halt new regulations--and it needs only a majority vote of 51 in the Senate. But, such a resolution must be passed within 60 days of the rules' publication, and that period has expired for the bulk of the new greenhouse gas rules.
This could quiet down new House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) for a while, as the Review Act is the only specific strategy he has mentioned to date for fighting the EPA regulations.
Senate Democrats seem to be gearing up for the battle. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says she will use every tool available to keep Upton and his cronies from derailing the regulations.
She plans to hold press conferences and other public forums to let the publich know about the health effects of increasing greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to turn public opinion against Republican efforts. She will also counter Republican "job killing" propaganda with information that shows regulation will create jobs.
“I believe what Chairman Upton has indicated he wants to do, which is essentially stop all progress on this front, is against the law,” she told reporters.
And she's not alone, several Senate Democrats went on the record with combative statements. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said, "People on the other side can talk about costs" of extending EPA authority over industry. What's the cost of a life? What's the cost of a disability? ... We're not going to cower in a corner."
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told the New York Times, "I never defend -- I always attack. If they want to repeal EPA [regulations] and stuff like that, I think we ought to go after them."
Lautenberg also noted that a proactive message is essential to make sure the public understands the benefits of the EPA's new regulations.
And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) added, "They're not going to be able to roll back [EPA regulations] without coming through the Senate. There is a case to be made that, in the contest between corporate profits and children's lungs, someone should be standing up for children's lungs."
Meanwhile, Democrats are considering putting Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) would replace Feinstein on the Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for the EPA and Interior Department. There, he would be able to defend against spending bill riders to delay or nix EPA climate change regulations. Reed has little fear of losing his seat any time soon and is a strong environmental proponent.