Republican-led House panel keeps 'activist' EPA in its crosshairs

Republicans in the House Energy and Commerce Committee say they have more work to do to “rein in the activist” Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before the congressional session ends.

Failure to keep the EPA from wielding the Clean Air Act as a regulatory job-killer ranks among the committee’s signature shortcomings thus far, committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in his second quarter report released Monday. 

Most of the policy goals were political rallying points for Republican House members. Few of the initiatives stand much of a chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate, especially as the election nears and a lame-duck session looms.

Upton chastised President Obama and the EPA for using the Clean Air Act as a way to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have seen a seemingly interminable spate of regulations issued by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, and as we predicted, the high cost and economic uncertainty created by these rules are having a chilling effect on job creators around the country,” Upton said in the report.

The report also railed against a proposed EPA rule that would label coal ash as hazardous waste, a tactic that Republican committee members say will kill jobs by imposing burdensome costs on power plants.

House Republicans had tried to get a provision blocking coal ash regulations into the highway bill. The report lent support to Rep. David McKinley’s (R-W. Va.) proposal to ensure largely state-crafted regulation, which supporters call needed to ensure the continued recycling of coal ash into other products.

The EPA says coal ash can lead to pollution that contaminates ground water, among other environmental concerns.

Sticking with the jobs theme, the report also advocated approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“We can all be confident in knowing that we have done everything we can to see this pro-jobs, pro-energy project cross the finish line; unfortunately, President Obama and some Democrats in Congress have used every excuse in the book to block its construction,” Upton wrote.

House Republicans will push the “No More Solyndras Act” it announced last week in the final months of the congressional session, the report said. That bill would phase out the Department of Energy (DOE) program that supplied now-bankrupt California solar panel firm Solyndra with a $535 million federal loan guarantee.

DOE says the bill would hurt the program while doing nothing to improve taxpayer protections. It also would create new restrictions for clean energy loan guarantees, it said.