WASHINGTON — Four Democrats are joining a Republican effort to block the Environmental Protection Agency from reducing heat-trapping pollution blamed for global warming.
Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will sponsor a bill supported by 43 Senate and seven House Republicans that would bar the EPA from using federal law to control greenhouse gases from power plants, refineries and other industrial facilities.
The measure is the latest to be introduced in the Republican-controlled House, where at least a half-dozen bills target the EPA and its efforts to control air and water pollution. Several bills blocking or delaying agency rules have also been filed in the Senate, where their fate is far less certain.
None of the EPA's actions is as controversial as its rules on global warming, which Republicans and some Democrats say will raise energy costs and cause job losses in an already fragile economy. The Obama administration counters that controlling global warming pollution is necessary based on scientific evidence that it is threatening public health and the environment. The EPA also says the rules will ultimately yield more health and economic benefits than costs, much like many other Clean Air Act regulations.
The bill, introduced Thursday in the House and Senate, would not bar states from taking action on global warming gases and preserves a deal between the Obama administration and automakers to boost fuel economy and to introduce greenhouse gas standards on tailpipes. But it goes much further than other proposals Democrats have backed by permanently hamstringing the EPA. A bill by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., would delay any action on large sources of pollution for two years.
While passage of some measure to hamstring the EPA in the House was all but assured by the Republican majority, the addition of four Democrats shows the momentum against the agency's global-warming regulations is growing. The three House Democratic sponsors, along with 10 other Democrats, voted in February for a rider to a House-passed budget bill that would have prohibited the EPA from using any money to regulate global warming pollution.
"I am dead set against the EPA's plowing ahead on its own with new regulations to limit greenhouse gases," Rahall said in a statement. Rahall, who worries regulation will harm coal producers in his district, said that Congress should set policy governing global warming gases.
Rahall and Boren voted against a Democratic-backed bill setting a limit on such pollution when it passed the House in June 2009. Manchin grabbed headlines during his campaign for the Senate when he fired a bullet through the House-passed bill in a commercial.
Peterson supported the legislation, which was championed by President Barack Obama, but only after making deals to ease the cost for farmers. The legislation died in the Senate, where Democrats said they did not have enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.
The lead authors of the bill are House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Inhofe disputes the widespread scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is causing Earth's temperature to rise.
The bills are H.R. 910 and S. 482