The House on Thursday passed legislation to enhance the Environmental Protection Agency's reporting requirements for the number of pre-construction permits it issues under the Clean Air Act. 

Passed 238-172, the measure, H.R. 4795, would require the EPA to make public the number of pre-construction permits it issues each year and provide guidance on how to comply with air quality standards.

ADVERTISEMENT

In addition, the bill would direct the EPA to report to Congress each year on how it can expedite the permitting process. 

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the measure's sponsor, argued it would promote manufacturing and increase transparency. 

"It's about getting Americans back to work," Scalise said. "The president says he wants to be the most transparent president ever. We'd actually like to help him fulfill that promise."

But Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the measure would weaken environmental protections by allowing permit applicants to avoid updated EPA air quality standards if the facilities are new or expanding, calling it "pollution amnesty."

"This bill does not do anything to improve the permitting process for new and expanding facilities, but it does weaken air quality protection," Waxman said.

The White House issued a veto threat against the bill, saying it would impose "arbitrary and unnecessary requirements."