Three Republican lawmakers have joined the bandwagon of opponents of Environmental Protection Agency regulation of climate-altering gases. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Representatives Fred Upton of Michigan and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky are circulating a draft of a bill dubbed the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 that takes aim squarely at the E.P.A.’s authority to impose limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.
Their bill joins several other efforts in Congress to curtail or delay the agency’s plans to issue greenhouse gas regulations, rules that these opponents believe will raise energy costs, drive manufacturers offshore and strangle the economic recovery.
The Inhofe-Upton-Whitfield bill would, its sponsors say, prevent the E.P.A. from enacting rules that should properly be written by Congress, restrict use of the Clean Air Act to address climate change, prevent the administration from enacting a “backdoor” carbon tax and protect American jobs from foreign competition.
The draft measure reverses the E.P.A.’s landmark 2009 finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health and the environment, and thus undercuts the rationale for any regulation of these substances. It would allow the emissions reduction deal among auto makers and federal and state governments to remain in place through 2017 (but not after) and provide for continued federal research on climate change.
But it would repeal already-enacted federal rules governing carbon dioxide emissions and bar federal enforcement of state climate change laws.
“We firmly believe federal bureaucrats should not be unilaterally setting national climate change policy,” the three lawmakers said in a statement. “E.P.A.’s cap-and-trade tax agenda will cost jobs, undermine the competitiveness of America’s manufacturers, and, as E.P.A. has conceded, will have no meaningful impact on climate.”
Just two years ago, the Democrat who was then chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, along with Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, introduced the most sweeping climate change legislation ever proposed in Congress. They muscled the measure through the committee and won a hard-fought battle on the House floor in June with a strong push from Nancy Pelosi, then the House speaker, and the White House.
The bill died in the Senate, and Democratic advocates of action on global warming are now fighting a rearguard action to try to preserve the last large-scale tool they have left to address the problem, a suite of federal regulations to reduce emissions from factories, power plants and vehicles.
Mr. Upton has in the past expressed relatively moderate views on climate change, calling for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But he now appears committed to moving a bill to handcuff the E.P.A. through his committee. Speaker John Boehner, a skeptic on climate change, supports the effort and may well be able to secure passage in the House.
The Senate is more problematic for opponents of greenhouse gas regulation, although a number of Democrats have expressed concern about the economic impacts of such regulation. A measure proposed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, to force a two-year delay in any E.P.A. climate change regulation may have a chance of passage, but the White House has said that President Obama will veto any such effort to throttle the agency.
Brendan Gilfillan, an E.P.A. spokesman, said of the latest Republican measure, “These efforts would halt E.P.A.’s common-sense steps under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans from harmful air pollution that, until now, has not been subject to any pollution standards.”
He said that cleaning up cars, factories and power plants would encourage investment in clean-energy alternatives and make American companies more competitive.
Mr. Waxman said: “The Republicans have a lot of power, but they can’t amend the laws of nature. Gutting the Clean Air Act is only going to make our problems worse. This proposal threatens public health and energy security, and it undermines our economic recovery by creating regulatory uncertainty.”
Representative Whitfield said he would hold a hearing on the measure in the Energy and Commerce subcommittee energy and power, which he chairs, next Wednesday.By JOHN M. BRODER/NYT