Bill limiting EPA power draws veto threat

The White House is promising to veto a House bill that would impose new checks on regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The legislation would waste time and money, the administration said, “thereby delaying or permanently preventing EPA from fulfilling its legal obligations to protect public health and the environment.”

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The Energy Consumers Relief Act, introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in April, would require the agency to submit a report to Congress on any energy rules that are anticipated to cost over $1 billion before they can be finalized, and allow the Energy Department to block rules that will cause “significant adverse effects to the economy.”


In its report to Congress, the EPA would have to include costs, benefits and impacts to jobs and energy prices of the new rule.

Currently, agencies already need to submit to Congress the cost-benefit analyses of any “major” rule projected to cost over $100 million each year.

Requiring more reports, the White House said, “would require agencies to waste limited analytical resources on a duplicative analysis.”

Republicans and the oil and gas industry have claimed that the bill is necessary to bring transparency to the EPA and protect jobs from being impacted by unnecessary regulations.

However, the White House claims that delays caused by the rule would “create uncertainty” for businesses and harm communities affected by pollution.

The legislation passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee along party lines, 25-18.

Also on Tuesday, the White House expressed its “concerns” with a bill that would largely cut the EPA out of regulating the ash produced by burning coal and prohibit it from being labeled a hazardous material.

The administration did not pledge to veto the bill, but called it “overly broad” and said it “may unintentionally block important protections” of federal water safety laws.

That bill, introduced by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), would defer most responsibility for regulating coal ash to states, while ensuring minimum federal standards.

The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act received a bipartisan backing in committee, and passed with a 31-16 vote.

In its statement, the White House said it “would like to work with Congress to address the important issues” of the bill to allow for effective coal ash regulation “while encouraging the beneficial use of this economically important material.”

Earlier this week, more than 200 industrial and energy organizations signed a letter asking lawmakers to support the bill.

The groups called the bill "the best and most effective path to resolve the regulatory uncertainty surrounding" the disposal of the ash.

Both bills are scheduled to come before a full vote in the House later this week.