House panel approves bill mandating more analysis of EPA rules

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Republicans on the subcommittee argued Friday that the EPA does not conduct adequate analysis of the effect of its regulations on jobs and the economy. EPA and the White House Office of Management and Budget currently conduct cost-benefit analyses of all rules.

The legislation represents the latest GOP assault on the EPA. Republicans have blasted the agency for imposing a slew of regulations, including rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And they’ve sought to block or delay the regulations, arguing they place excessive burdens on the economy.

“These rules are hurting people and people are suffering out there,” Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.), the sponsor of the legislation, said Friday.

The legislation provides “a much-needed analysis” of EPA’s regulations, full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said, arguing that the legislation “represents a worthwhile attempt to provide information that could help avoid substantial and unnecessary costs in the years ahead.”

But Democrats on the subcommittee said the analyses mandated by the legislation do not take into account the public health and economic benefits of EPA regulations.

“I can’t support proposals that are one-sided or will waste taxpayers dollars with unfeasible analysis,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the full committee.

Waxman argued that the bill sets unrealistic goals and creates a “new government bureaucracy.”

Republicans rejected two amendments offered by Democrats.

The first, offered by subcommittee ranking Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush (Ill.), would have expanded the scope of the legislation to take into account the public-health benefits of EPA regulations, among other things. A second amendment, offered by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), would have limited the scope of the analyses if they were found to be unfeasible.

Republicans and Democrats clashed throughout Friday’s markup. At one point, Republicans criticized Democrats for making a change to Rush’s amendment, arguing that Democrats operated under different parliamentary standards in the last Congress.

“If you want us to play nice, then you ought to play nice too,” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) told Democrats.

“I just want to point out how juvenile this is,” Waxman responded.

Republicans ultimately allowed Democrats to tweak the amendment, and it quickly failed.

The Republican legislation would establish a presidentially appointed committee to conduct a series of analyses on the economic impact of various EPA regulations.

The committee would comprise of a slew of administration officials, including the Agriculture secretary, Labor secretary, Energy secretary and EPA administrator. The Commerce secretary would chair the committee.

The legislation — known as the ‘Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act — instructs the committee to conduct a series of analyses on how EPA regulations affect global competitiveness, jobs and electricity and fuel prices, among other things.

The bill, if passed by the House, is unlikely to move in the Senate. The Energy and Commerce Committee passed similar legislation in May. The subcommittee voted on an updated version of the bill Friday.