The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Wednesday to impose tough new restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to enact costly new regulations.
The bill, which advanced in a 25-18 vote, would give the Department of Energy (DOE) the power to review all energy-related draft rules from the EPA and block them if officials determine they would cause economic damage.
It would also require the EPA to submit a report to Congress for any proposed energy-related regulations that would have an impact of more than $1 billion on the economy.
In an unusually impassioned markup session, Republicans said that burdensome EPA rules were killing businesses and hurling their constituents into poverty, while Democrats argued that industry pollution was killing Americans and damaging the environment.
“What don’t you get about climate change? How long are you going to ignore the science?” demanded Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) “I’m not going to stick my head in the sand.”
Democrats were particularly roiled by the provision giving the DOE review powers over the rules, which they said is designed to kill important environmental protections just as the EPA is considering major new limits on emissions from power plants.
They argued that the measure would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the rule-making process and authorize de facto veto power for the Secretary of Energy.
A series of Democratic amendments seeking to scale back the bill were defeated.