Industry backs GOP bill to constrain EPA

In prepared testimony, industry advocates praised the proposal.

"The EPA should not fear transparency of the economics of regulation — they should embrace it as part of their regulatory reform efforts," said Paul Cicio, president of Industrial Energy Consumers of America, a manufacturing trade group.

"The EPA provided leadership decades ago in reducing emissions; they now need to lead again by addressing the cost and transparency issues," he continued. "This is a win-win and there are no losers."

Added Brendan Williams, a vice president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, "These regulations, some of which are completely discretionary, threaten to chill investment and require companies to divert capital from job-creating projects to comply with unnecessary and burdensome regulations."

Among the topics of criticism was a recent long-awaited proposed rule on auto emissions. That standard would cut sulfur content of gasoline by 60 percent and would avoid up to 2,400 premature deaths per year, according to the EPA.

"The incremental reduction to remove the trace amounts of sulfur will cost refiners almost as much as the original reduction, which removed 15 times more sulfur than the current regulation will require," Williams said.

Opponents of the EPA-restraining bill cited health and environmental dangers of under-regulation. "The adverse health effects of air pollution are well known and fully documented in the scientific literature," said Dr. William Rom of the American Thoracic Society in his prepared statement. "Equally well established are the health and economic benefits associated with reductions in air pollution."

Rena Steinzor, the president of the watchdog organization the Center for Progressive Reform, asserted in her testimony, "Congress should focus on ways to invigorate the EPA, rather than pursuing legislation that would to kneecap the agency."

The Energy Consumers Relief Act is just one route Republicans are taking to combat the EPA's perceived lack of transparency.

On Thursday, President Obama's nominee to run the agency was grilled on whether she used her personal, private email account to conduct business, and lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced bills that would limit the practice of regulation created de facto through lawsuits and court orders, a process referred to as "sue and settle."