White House threatens veto on GOP energy bill

The White House is threatening to veto a broad House energy package that would mandate expanded onshore oil-and-gas leasing, limit environmental reviews of drilling projects and delay several Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules.

The threat to veto the GOP measure is no surprise, and the bill won’t advance in the Senate after its expected House passage this week anyway.

But the threat's arrival a day after the White House similarly waved the veto pen at a Senate GOP plan to scuttle EPA power plant rules underscores deep political divides on energy and environmental policy.

Here’s what the White House said about the House energy package Tuesday:

[T]his bill would favor an arbitrary standard for leasing in open areas over leasing on the basis of greatest resource potential; limit the public's opportunity to engage in decisions about the use of public lands as well as protests of oil and gas leases; raise the potential for costly litigation, protests, and delays; curtail the use of public lands for other uses like hunting, fishing, and recreation; and remove the environmental safeguards that ensure sound Federal leasing decision-making by eliminating appropriate reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The formal White House “statement of administration policy” also takes aim at provisions that would delay several air pollution regulations while an interagency panel reviews their cumulative effect on fuel prices, employment and the economy.

“The bill would undermine the longstanding principle of the [Clean Air Act] that air quality standards must be set at levels requisite to protect public health, based first and foremost on sound science,” the White House said.

It says that President Obama’s advisers would recommend a veto if it reached his desk.

But House Republicans praised the bill Tuesday, ahead of the launch of debate Wednesday.

The bill “removes roadblocks to American energy production” and create more “certainty” for oil-and-gas companies by preventing withdrawal of leases and other provisions, according to GOP leaders.