A new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation aimed at regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources such as power plants, oil refineries, and factories probably won’t be enforced, says Sen. James Inhofe.
The Obama administration introduced the regulation, known as the “tailoring rule,” on May 13 as a hedge against Congress’ failure to pass a cap-and-trade bill.
“Let’s keep in mind the president is doing this because he doesn’t have the votes to do this in the House and the Senate,” Inhofe tells Newsmax.
The House passed a cap-and-trade bill in June, but senators have found it difficult to pass similar legislation because of bipartisan opposition.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., one of the Senate leaders of the effort, made comments similar to the Oklahoma Republican’s the day the EPA unveiled the rule.
“The Obama administration has again reminded Washington that, if Congress won’t legislated, the EPA will regulate,” Kerry said then. “Those who have spent years stalling need to understand: Killing a Senate bill is no longer an option.”
The regulation, targeting 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, faces numerous court challenges from industry groups and bipartisan Senate opposition that Inhofe predicts will block EPA enforcement.
The lag between now and the rule’s January effective date gives members of Congress time to stop the rule, Inhofe says.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced a resolution to block it that Inhofe says has the backing of 46 senators, including five Democrats. Murkowski has until June 7 to bring her resolution to the floor for a vote, and no filibusters will be possible under the Congressional Review Act she is relying on for her action.
Inhofe backs Murkowski’s bid to thwart the regulation, but he warns that “the Barbara Boxers of the world will be standing up and holding that vote up and say, ‘Now we have 46 senators who are for cap and trade.’”
“That’s not at all true . . . but that’s the way that it would be represented,” Inhofe says. “I think it’s fine to go ahead and do it although I think they don’t have the votes, but I think we have to make every effort.”
A rival proposal of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, would limit the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions for two years.
Conrad says he prefers a legislative rather than a regulatory action on cap and trade, which he views as unlikely this year.
Inhofe says he could support Rockefeller’s measure because he expects the GOP to control the House and the Senate two years from now.
The published rule would regulate new power plants, oil refineries and factories that contribute more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride annually and existing ones that increase emissions by 75,000 tons annually. Smaller emitters would be exempted from the rule.
The EPA estimates that 900 additional permits would come under its purview and 550 new permits would be issued for the first time covering greenhouse-gas emissions. These permits would have to show they use the “best available control technologies” to minimize emissions.
Inhofe and other opponents contend this regulation would have a dramatic negative impact. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson conceded during congressional testimony that the regulation would not reduce such emissions unless other nations followed suit, Inhofe says.
“What we’re doing is giving the American people a huge tax, something comparable to $300 billion a year, and we don’t get anything for it,” Inhofe says. “The regulations that they would try to impose would be just as destructive as cap and trade; it would be cap and trade done administratively instead of legislatively.”
According to The New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., hopes to bring a cap-and-trade bill to the Senate floor by mid-June.
Inhofe believes the flawed nature of the science undergirding the proposed regulation will help those groups challenging the rule in court.
“By the time all of this gets sorted out, Republicans will have a majority, and it won’t make any difference,” he says. “The politics are on our side because imposing a huge tax increase on the American people is so unconscionable because it really won’t accomplish anything in terms of emissions.”
If the Republicans can’t block the legislation, Inhofe still is confident that suits challenging the regulation would keep it tied up in court indefinitely.
“It’s the job of federal agencies like EPA to regulate, not legislate,” says a statement from Gregory M. Scott, executive vice president and general counsel of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. “If EPA wants changes in the Clean Air Act, it should propose them to Congress, not unlawfully take on the role of Congress.”
The National Association of Manufacturers also released a statement condemning the new rule as “costly and confusing” and warned it would cost jobs.
The administration defends the regulation, claiming it will “spark clean technology innovation and protect small businesses and farms” and that it complies with a 2007 Supreme Court decision ordering the EPA to determine whether greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.
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