White House threatens veto over House attack on EPA pollution rules

President Obama’s advisers will recommend that he veto pending House legislation that would block two key Environmental Protection Agency air-pollution rules, a White House official said.

“As the President has made clear, the administration will continue to take steps to defend the authority of the Clean Air Act, and the important progress we have made to protect the air we breathe,” the official said.

The move could ease concerns among activists who were bitterly disappointed with the White House's retreat on planned ozone standards earlier this month.

The House is slated to vote later this week on a GOP-led measure that would mandate new interagency analyses of the cumulative economic effects of several EPA rules.

The bill would delay completion of upcoming mercury standards for power plants until at least six months after the interagency panel’s final report in August of 2012.

It would also delay a recently finalized EPA rule to cut power plant emissions that blow across state lines and worsen smog and particulate pollution, a measure called the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

The White House threat to veto the bill — called the “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act” — is the latest signal from the administration that it will battle GOP efforts to scuttle a suite of EPA rules.

Obama vowed to hold firm on the measures the same day he announced plans to shelve upcoming EPA ozone rules, which the administration is planning to reconsider in 2013.

EPA officials say the mercury standards and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will bring huge public health gains.

EPA estimates that the Cross-State measure will prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million sick days annually beginning in 2014, according to an agency summary.

Republicans and some conservative Democrats, however, allege that EPA regulations are overly burdensome and that their economic effects have not been adequately vetted.

The TRAIN Act is one of several bills heading for the House floor this year aimed at thwarting EPA rules that Republican leaders call “job-killers.”

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has accused EPA critics of peddling doom-and-gloom scenarios about the impact of Clean Air Act rules that are at odds with the law's history of rules that have not hindered growth.