Lawmakers Urge President to Act on EPA Rulemaking

Nearly 20 Senate Democrats asked President Obama in a letter today not to agree to spending plans passed by the GOP-controlled House last month that would block funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) implementation of greenhouse gas rules.

Democrats and Republicans must reach a spending deal by April 8 to prevent a government shutdown.

In the letter, Democrats that included Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Republican proposal “drastically cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and included backdoor efforts to undermine the nation’s landmark environmental laws.” The letter was also signed by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and others.

“While we all agree that there must be cuts to the budget in order to reduce the federal deficit, it must be done in thoughtful and responsible way that does not sacrifice a clean and safe environment,” they said.

Earlier this month, 20 Republican governors, led by Texas’ Rick Perry, called on the president to rein in the EPA, which they said is pursuing an “unreasonably aggressive regulatory agenda.” The governors said that the EPA is “simultaneously developing and implementing a number of regulatory and policy initiatives with extremely short and converging compliance deadlines within the next five years which will significantly impact the energy industry, increase burdensome costs to consumers, and hurt the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.”

Among regulations that would hurt industry and create uncertainty, they say, are the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rule, the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards for industrial boilers, and National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, SOx, NOx, and particulates. Proposed rules included new MACT and cooling water intake structures requirements for power plants as well as coal ash rules.

In related news, last week, Texas lawmakers announced the creation of a Texas task force to slow the EPA’s efforts to tighten Clean Air Act restrictions on the state. Announced by Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas) and John Carter (R-Texas), State Representative Jim Keffer (R- Eastland), and Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Chairman Brian Shaw, the task force will address the EPA’s June 2010 disapproval of the state’s “flexible permitting” program. It will also tackle the issuance last year of a federal implementation plant that assumes permitting authority for GHG emission sources in the state.

Sources: POWERnews, EPA, Republican Governors Association, Texas Tribune

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