Republicans Try to Block EPA on Emissions Standards

House Republicans are trying to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gasses without Congressional approval.

House Republicans introduced a resolution Tuesday that would prevent EPA from trying to curb the release of carbon dioxide emissions, or CO2. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had the right to move against such pollutants. And in December, the EPA determined that some greenhouse gasses are a threat to the environment and can take administrative action to limit such pollutants.

“We want to send a very clear signal that what the EPA has done is wrong,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX).

Nearly 90 House Republicans have signed on to the resolution.

“The last thing the American people need is a back-door energy tax,” said House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN).

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a similar resolution in the Senate last week. Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Ike Skelton (D-MO) crafted their own resolution as well in late February.

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can forge resolutions and intervene with federal agencies like the EPA.

Resolutions are usually easier to move through the House than the Senate. But in a unique twist, the opposite could be true in this case. If 30 senators sign on, the Senate can expedite Murkowski’s resolution to the floor and dodge the chance of a filibuster. The Senate could consider this resolution later this month.

But that’s not the case in the House. This resolution could appear on the floor if given the blessing by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). However, if Republicans are able to cobble together 218 votes, supporters could enter a special process to “discharge” the resolution to the House floor. 218 is the magic number in the House, representing slightly more than half of the 435-member body.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) argued that Congress should move to quash the EPA.

“I don’t understand how EPA can down this path without Congress speaking,” Blackburn said.

Many Democrats say privately that they agree with Republicans that Congress should be involved in the decision-making process and prefer Congressional intervention.

“We don’t want EPA to regulate. We want Congress to legislate (a solution),” said a senior Democratic aide.

But that doesn’t mean that Democrats will be quick to sign on to the Republican resolution.

“When Republicans were offered the chance to vote for Waxman-Markey, which chooses legislative powers over regulatory authority, nearly all of them voted no,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), who authored the major climate bill that the House adopted last summer, known as Waxman-Markey.

But Markey suggested that some Republicans weren’t advocating any sort of pollution controls at all.

“Most of them aren’t even willing to acknowledge there’s a problem,” he said.