No 'backdoor' climate rules, GOP warns

Signatories of the letter included Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Minority Whip John Cornyn (Texas), Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), among others.

The letter, sent to White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairwoman Nancy Sutley, is the latest warning from GOP senators who fear expanded emissions regulations from Obama in his second term.

Republicans said the inclusion of greenhouse gas emission in NEPA reviews would “expand the scope” to a point that is “inconsistent with the intentions of the statute.”

“Efforts to regulate GHGs [greenhouse gases] using the NEPA process will cause significant delays in permitting projects and slow our nation’s economic recovery.”

The lawmakers referred to a 2010 draft guidance issued by CEQ. That draft does not attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through NEPA, according to the council.

Republican senators are concerned, however, that the final guidance could do just that. They alluded to a recent Bloomberg report that suggested Obama would implement recommendations in that guidance to force federal agencies to consider greenhouse gas emissions through NEPA.

Federal agencies are instructed to carry out NEPA reviews for a variety of permits. The results are used to inform decisions on whether projects meet environmental standards.

The draft CEQ guidance said advised federal agencies, through NEPA, to evaluate “whether analysis of the direct and indirect [greenhouse gas] emissions from their proposed actions may provide meaningful information to decision makers and the public.”