Candidates for House Appropriations gavel target EPA climate rules

He spoke to reporters after his appearance before the GOP’s Steering Committee, which is hearing pitches from prospective committee chairmen.

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), who is currently the senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, is also threatening to block climate change rules and other EPA policies. He is seeking a term-limit waiver to serve another stint as chairman.

In a letter Monday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Lewis said the Appropriations Committee would conduct “unprecedented levels of oversight” next year.

“In addition to scrutinizing the agency’s entire FY 2012 budget, with particular attention to the agency’s rulemaking process, the House Appropriations Committee will be exercising its prerogative to withhold funding for prospective EPA regulations and de-fund through the rescissions process many of those already on the books,” he wrote.

More broadly, Kingston said, “I think climate change should go through the legislative branch of government.”

Climate legislation collapsed on Capitol Hill this year, but EPA is moving to minimize emissions from power plants, refineries and other sources under its existing Clean Air Act authorities. These rules begin phasing in next year.

“If they are trying to do an end [run] around it through bureaucratic executive orders or something, then I think it is proper for the legislative branch to push back,” Kingston said.

The Appropriations Committees have considerable power to shape environmental policy. Congressional bans on offshore oil-and-gas leasing were renewed annually through the spending process for decades before they were allowed to lapse in 2008.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) is also seeking to lead the Appropriations Committee in the next Congress.