Inhofe: Obama delaying new pollution rules to boost his reelection

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Senators slam Pentagon officials Generals contradict Biden, say they advised leaving troops in Afghanistan LIVE COVERAGE: Senators press military leaders on Afghanistan MORE (R-Okla.) on Thursday accused the White House of delaying new environmental rules until after the election in a bid to improve President Obama’s reelection chances.

Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, has made curbing various emissions rules one of his top legislative priorities. 

He said Thursday that the cost of potential new rules, combined with existing ones, “is probably greater than the cost of servicing” the nation’s $5.3 trillion deficit.

Inhofe told "Fox and Friends" that the administration is intentionally stalling on the rules to keep voters in the dark about their costs.

“The president is planning on disobeying the law again, like he did in the WARN [Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification] Act, and not coming out and saying what types of regulations are going to be until after the election,” Inhofe said, referring to the federal law that requires employers of more than 100 workers to give 60 days' notice of plant closings and mass layoffs.

One of the potential environmental rules would impose tougher standards on ozone pollution, which Inhofe said would cost the economy $90 billion per year.

The administration ultimately overrode the Environmental Protection Agency’s more stringent ozone standards in September 2011, saying it would revisit the proposal in 2013. Obama said at the time he did not want to impose the rules during a period of economic recovery.

The Hill reported in August that Obama’s former regulatory chief actively shared concerns from business groups and House lawmakers about the standards with White House aides.

Uncertainty about such rules concerns Inhofe, who wrote Obama on Thursday that the administration "is not adhering" to the Regulatory Flexibility Act because "it has failed to publish its regulatory agenda since the fall of 2011."

Despite the change of course on ozone standards, the administration has pushed ahead with several air quality rules amid backlash from the GOP and industry.

The administration issued rules requiring cuts in mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired power plants. It also has proposed the first-ever carbon emissions caps for new coal-fired power plants, though that rule has yet to be finalized.

Inhofe said those existing and potential rules could cost between $300 billion and $400 billion annually.

“All of these things are going to be coming out the day after the election or shortly after that,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe said the administration has already spent $68.4 billion on climate change programs between fiscal 2008 and 2012, citing an April Congressional Research Service report.

The Environmental Protection Agency did not immediately respond.