Top Republican takes aim at EPA rules at budget hearing

Top Republican takes aim at EPA rules at budget hearing

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Overnight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Alaska) criticized several Environmental Protection Agency rules during a Wednesday hearing, indicating lawmakers may consider targeting them in spending bills for the agency this year. 

During a hearing of a Senate subcommittee overseeing EPA funding, panel chairwoman Murkowski took aim the agency’s clean water rule, a proposed methane regulation and a funding request for implementing a climate change rule, all of which are major EPA priorities. 

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“There is a concern that rather than focusing on its core mission of attending to and cleaning up the environment, the agency is pumping out rule after rule that are based on questionable legal authority,” Murkowski said Wednesday at a hearing with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Critics accuse Interior's top lawyer of misleading Congress | Boaty McBoatface makes key climate change discovery | Outrage over Trump's order to trim science advisory panels Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage Overnight Energy: Trump order to trim science panels sparks outrage | Greens ask watchdog to investigate Interior's records policies | EPA to allow use of pesticide harmful to bees MORE.

The water rule — which provides more federal oversight on small waterways — is a “show-stopper,” Murkowski said, and one that would have a major impact on her water-heavy state. 

The rule — currently stayed by a federal court while litigation against it moves forward — remains a major priority for the Obama administration. A senior administration official told The Hill Obama would veto a separate spending bill if the Senate attaches an amendment blocking the water rule, something Republicans may consider bringing up on the floor this week. 

“If the final bill that is presented to the president includes problematic ideological provisions that have no place in funding legislation — including any attempt to block our efforts to protect Americans’ health by keeping our streams and wetlands clean — his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” the official said.

Republicans have criticized other EPA rulemaking, including a carbon emissions rule for power plants. Obama requested $235 million to work on the Clean Power Plan in his 2017 budget, but Murkowski criticized that request on Wednesday. 

She also said the agency shouldn’t move forward with a rule on methane emissions at drilling sites, noting a decline in methane leaks without an existing rule. 

The agency is looking to finalize a rule on new drilling sites this year and is working on regulations for existing sites as well. 

“At a time when low oil prices are creating a challenging situation for the industry, I’m concerned that this proposal has the potential to perhaps limit investment, hamper domestic production and perhaps drive up costs for the consumers,” Murkowski said.  

Neither the House nor the Senate have released their EPA spending bills. Last year, Republicans in both chambers looked to block agency rules in its spending measures but agreed not to in a year-end spending deal.