GOP bills target ‘overreaching’ EPA

A series of new bills introduced this week in the Senate seek to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory reach and would subject the agency to penalties for missing reporting deadlines.

Offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), the legislation reflects the latest in a series of Republican attempts to rein in an EPA that GOP lawmakers say has run amok and must be held accountable. 

Johanns took to the Senate floor Wednesday, saying the people of his home state are fed up with the EPA’s actions during the Obama administration.

“And their message is very loud, clear, and unmistakable,” he said. “EPA is overreaching, overbearing, and overstepping boundaries that have long existed.”

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Republican anger has mostly been directed at the agency’s use of regulations and official memoranda to further the administration’s environmental agenda without congressional approval. Lawmakers also complained loudly after EPA’s regulatory agenda was released long after its statutory deadline.

Johanns introduced four separate bills. The first targets EPA’s use of guidance documents, rather than formal rules, to enforce actions. Such guidance is not subject to congressional oversight, but Johanns’s bill would remedy that by bringing them under the scope of the Congressional Review Act, he said.

The second would require the EPA’s Inspector General to report to Congress twice a year on the agency’s progress toward meeting deadlines that, Johanns said, are now being skirted. The third measure would reduce EPA’s budget by $20,000 every week until the agency meets its agenda setting deadlines.

The last bill would force EPA to provide timely information and technical assistance to states working to comply with federal mandates.

Most of the legislation was referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Aides to Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) could not immediately be reached for comment.

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