A House subcommittee has passed a bill that curbs the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority to adopt energy regulations and would force an economic impact review of new rules.
The bill requires the EPA to provide a report to Congress detailing the estimated expense and job impact of any proposed energy rules that would cost more than $1 billion, according to The Hill
The legislation would also entitle the Energy Department to conduct a review of the EPA's proposed rules and reject them if it concludes they would cause economic harm.
The Republican-backed bill is called the Energy Consumer Relief Act. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Power approved it 17-10 on Monday, despite Democratic opposition. The legislation will now go to the full committee.
"We know EPA rules are unusually expensive," subcommittee chairman Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, said during debate over the measure, according to The Hill. "We are trying to focus on the effect on the economy and the loss of jobs."
The oil and gas industry, which has complained about EPA emissions regulations, praised the measure's passing.
"President Obama has promised transparency from his administration, and the American people deserve to receive a complete and accurate accounting of the impact of EPA actions on the economic recovery and their pocketbooks," the American Petroleum Institute said in a written statement.
Opponents of the bill say it's meant to quash important environmental protections, just as the EPA is considering big new restrictions on power plant emissions.
"This act would effectively knee-cap the agency's remaining ability to protect citizens against damaging pollutants," said Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, The Hill reports.
The bill means that a rule boosting energy costs for U.S. households by as little as $0.87 a year would activate the DOE’s veto power, she said.
In other EPA news, Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama's controversial choice to head the agency, cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, when one of her top GOP critics said he wouldn't block a Senate vote on her appointment.
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, offered his support for a full Senate vote on McCarthy after the EPA agreed to a series of requests he made concerning complaints about the agency's transparency
"I've had very productive conversations with EPA over the last several weeks, and believe the agency has taken significant steps forward on our five transparency requests. … I see no further reason to block Gina McCarthy's nomination," he said in a statement on his website.
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