Greenwire: Senate Bill Introduced to Prohibit Federal Agencies and States from Regulating GHG

CLIMATE: Senate GHG bill would strike down federal, some state regs (01/31/2011)

Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) will introduce a bill later today that would prohibit federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions and also limit states’ ability to implement carbon dioxide laws.

The measure would prevent the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions for their effects on climate change, according to a source familiar with the bill.

“The president or the head of a federal department or agency may not promulgate regulations concerning, take action related to, or take into consideration the role of emissions of greenhouse gas unless the regulations, action, and consideration are determined by the president or head of the federal department or agency … to be necessary to protect the public health from imminent and substantial harm caused by direct human exposure to the greenhouse gas,” the bill states, according to the source.

The measure would strike down U.S. EPA’s December 2009 finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health by contributing to climate change, which is the basis for the agency’s current and planned Clean Air Act regulations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions from vehicles and stationary sources, such as power plants and industrial facilities.

The Barrasso bill would “grandfather in” a tailpipe emissions rule agreed to in 2009 by automakers, environmentalists and states, which set a 35.5-mile-per-gallon target for passenger vehicles and light trucks by 2016. But it would bar EPA from promulgating any further increases to fuel efficiency standards beyond 2016 as a way to combat climate change. It would also prevent states like California from seeking any waiver to promulgate still tougher emissions-control standards for vehicles.

The bill would also bar EPA and other agencies from using any other environmental laws — including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act — to regulate carbon emissions.

The bill also contains language limiting states’ ability to regulate carbon, though it is not clear whether it would strike down regional compacts like the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is a CO2 cap-and-trade program involving 10 states.

Barrasso’s measure is one of two GOP bills expected to be introduced this week in a push to handcuff EPA. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) plans to unveil a bill with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that would strip EPA of its authority to limit carbon emissions from power plants, refineries and other stationary sources.

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