Energy & Environment

Senator maps strategy against EPA rules

Senate Republicans are planning a full-on assault against a wide range of the Obama administration’s environmental rules, with a focus on overturning them or cutting their funding.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters Wednesday that the Congressional Review Act (CRA) will be a primary tool for the GOP.

{mosads}The CRA, a key piece of Republicans’ Contract with America in the 1990s, allows an expedited route for Congress to vote to overturn regulations, including those from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Inhofe said he wants to challenge his colleagues who think they cannot challenge the Obama administration’s rules.

“They can do something about it,” he said. “They can pass legislation or they can use the CRA. We plan to use the CRA.”

Inhofe is prioritizing fights against the EPA’s climate rules for power plants, its rule to redefine its Clean Water Act jurisdiction, potential limits on methane emissions for the oil gas sectors and ozone pollution limits.

But the GOP will also battle Obama on larger fronts, such as the “social cost of carbon,” the internal accounting it uses to calculate the benefits of climate change regulations.

CRA votes rarely pass through both chamber of Congress.

But Inhofe isn’t discouraged. He pointed to a resolution he proposed in 2012 to overturn the EPA’s bid to limit mercury and other air pollutants from coal plants.

The other main tool Republicans plan to use against the EPA is the appropriations process.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) identified appropriations last year as the best tool Republicans have to fight Obama’s rules.

“I think what he’s saying — and it has a lot of truth to it — is that there are some things we can do and some things where we might be really addressing a veto,” Inhofe said.

“So how do we deal with a potential veto? Another thing we could do, an approach that we could take, is to do it through the purse.”

Republicans reason that Obama would not veto a spending bill that defunds major regulations, because it would shut down the government.

But Inhofe said he doesn’t believe that the tactic would risk a government shutdown.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said when asked.

Inhofe is known as one of the most vocal lawmakers in opposition to the scientific consensus that human activity causes the climate to change. He has declared climate change to be the greatest hoax played on mankind.

He thinks the American people are coming around to his side. At the very least, opinion polls show that stopping climate change is not a priority for voters.

“A wake-up call has been heard, and that maybe is what’s driven down the significance of that issue in the minds of the American people,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe identified a total of six priorities for the committee, including infrastructure, changing the Endangered Species Act, rewriting the Toxic Substances Control Act and overseeing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Tags Climate change Environmental Protection Agency

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