Senior Democrats floating bill to block EPA on plans for greenhouse gas rules

Peterson has been a thorn in the side of Democratic leaders on climate change. He won major concessions for agriculture in the big climate change and energy bill the House approved in June, but recently said he’d vote against the bill if it comes back before the House.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) is also backing a largely Republican effort to prevent EPA regulations.

The White House says it wants Congress to approve legislation that would create a new system to regulate greenhouse gases. But EPA will move ahead under its current Clean Air Act powers if Congress does not act, administration officials say.

The new Peterson-Skelton plan, co-sponsored by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), would also block EPA from considering certain changes in land use when measuring greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol.

Final EPA rules expected as soon as today would weigh something called “international indirect land use changes” when assessing the carbon footprint of renewable fuels under a 2007 energy law.

The phrase refers to deforestation to create farmland in other countries that might result from increased use of corn and soybeans in the U.S. to make biofuels. Peterson and other ethanol industry backers say the measurements are unfair and based on speculative science.