Oil, gas, and coal lobbyists who poured millions of dollars into the midterm elections to help elect Republicans at the state and federal level are now moving to help craft legislation that will block or delay new environmental standards issued by the Obama administration, The Washington Post reported.
Republicans will be drawing on the support of industry lobbyists to take on the Environmental Protection Agency in a bid to halt President Barack Obama's climate change agenda, which is already set to be a major issue going into the 2016 presidential election.
"There is a palpable anger at the EPA in America," Nate Bell, a Republican state legislator from Arkansas, told the Post. "Mention them, and you will get laughed out of any coffee shop or feed store in my district."
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in both chambers are drawing on anti-EPA sentiment to try to enact obstacles to the president's environmental initiatives.
The incoming chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, Sen. James Inhofe, sent a letter demanding that the EPA withdraw new limits set on power plants, the Post reported.
House Speaker John Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have also been involved in talks about how to hamper the agency's powers, including the possibility of denying funding to the EPA for enacting new regulations.
At a meeting of the industry lobbyists last week, organizers discussed the drafting of model bills that states throughout the country could use to combat environmental regulations. There was also discussion about measures to scale back administration ozone rules. And a separate proposal discussed would give legislatures a role in establishing state limits for carbon emissions based on a mandatory cost-benefit analysis, the Post reported.
The aggressive effort by the industry is causing concern among environmental groups and activists who had previously been buoyed by the advance of Obama's climate change agenda, the Post reported.
Specifically, two dozen chief executives of national environmental groups had a meeting in Washington recently to discuss how to respond to the industry's recent offensive. The groups have decided to mount a fundraising drive from major liberal donors to go toward a new organization specifically dedicated to protecting climate initiatives at the state level.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Washington are gearing up for a fight to preserve and defend Obama's initiatives even as Republicans take over the Senate.
California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who will lose her chairmanship of the Senate's environment committee, says the committee under Republicans will "now [be] dominated by deniers on climate and very strong allies of the polluters."
She said she would "use every tool at my disposal" to fight industry efforts against Obama's climate change initiatives.
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