House Energy panel to take aim at Obama climate change regulations

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) plans to take dead aim at the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change regulations this year, according to a document obtained by The Hill laying out the panel’s 2011 agenda.

“We believe it critical that the Obama administration ‘stop’ imposing its new global warming regulatory regime, which will undermine economic growth and U.S. competitiveness for no significant benefit,” says the document, which lays out a suite of “key issues” that will come before the committee.

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While the individual items included in the document are not surprising, the agenda, taken as a whole, illustrates the breadth of GOP opposition to the White House energy and environment agenda.

The backgrounder says EPA has been regulating “too much too fast without fully analyzing the feasibility and economic and job impacts of the new rules.”

The committee will focus much of its attention this year on EPA’s regulatory “chokehold,” as the document calls it. And the document underscores the extent to which Upton will argue that EPA's agenda collides with economic recovery.

“The stakes could not be higher,” the document says. “ If the Obama administration succeeds in imposing unaffordable and unworkable permitting and other rules through EPA, it will severely impede the domestic manufacturing and industrial growth necessary for this nation to create jobs and emerge from a devastating recession."

The Obama EPA is at the early stages of developing its climate regulations. New greenhouse gas permitting rules for new and modified facilities began phasing in at the beginning of the year and the administration has outlined a timeline for issuing broader standards for power plants and refineries.

Republicans, led by Upton and others, have called for legislation to permanently block or delay EPA’s efforts to issue climate regulations.

The committee will also focus much of its attention on rising gas prices, which are at a two-year high. Republicans on the committee plan to use rising gas prices as justification to bash "artificial" burdens on U.S. drilling, the document indicates.

“In the face of $4 gasoline, calls for increased supply will be stronger than ever,” the document says. “We will respond by promoting affordable, abundant and secure sources of energy by preventing the administration’s regulatory overreach and expanding access in an environmentally responsible way.”

The committee backgrounder also makes it clear that Republicans on the committee will work to oppose efforts to pass a renewable energy standard, which would require that a certain portion of the country’s electricity come from renewable sources like wind and solar.

“Although governments have an important role to play in facilitating development of alternative energy, we oppose energy technology mandates that must be met regardless of cost,” the document says.

Committee Republicans will also focus on reducing “regulatory red tape” at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and exposing waste in the energy programs in the econmic recovery act.

Elsewhere, the listing of “key issues” on the agenda includes planned EPA rules to toughen regulation of waste products from coal-fired power plants, which have drawn opposition from coal-state lawmakers in both parties.

It also criticizes potential Interior Department rules to increase regulation of a natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, alleging they could “frustrate” domestic development.

The document also criticizes the Obama administration decision to abandon plans for the Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste repository, noting that U.S. power consumers have paid billions of dollars to build and manage the waste, but have “little to show for it.”

Other items on the agenda include: Chemical plant security standards and oversight of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The document notes that a range of interests are seeking revisions to the toxics statute but “vigorously disagree” on what the problems and solutions are.

“Robust oversight to understand these existing authorities should precede major legislation,” the document states.