Published December 28, 2010
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- After failing to get climate-change legislation through Congress, the Obama administration plans on pushing through its environmental policies through other means, and Republicans are ready to put up a fight.
On Jan. 2, new carbon emissions limits will be put forward as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares regulations that would force companies to get permits to release greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Critics say the new rules are a backdoor effort to enact the president's agenda on global warming without the support of Congress, and would hurt the economy and put jobs in jeopardy by forcing companies to pay for expensive new equipment.
"They are job killers. Regulations, period -- any kind of regulation is a weight on economy. It requires people to comply with the law, which takes work hours and time, which reduces the profitability of firms. Therefore, they grow more slowly and you create less jobs," said environmental scientist Ken Green of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Dan Howells of Greenpeace disagrees.
"I was looking at some advertisements from the 1970s where they were making the very same arguments about stopping acid rain. And that didn't turn out to be a job-killer. In fact, it created jobs in some places," said Howells, the environmental group's deputy campaign director. "The more we keep making these decades-old arguments, the more we won't be creating the jobs of the future and working towards the new energy economy."
The administration says it has the power to issue the regulation under a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that directed the agency to make a determination on whether carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming, was a hazard to human health.
The agency is set to have a preliminary version of the rules in place by July and then issue final standards in 2012 after a public comment period.
Rep Fred Upton, R-Mich., the incoming House Energy Committee Chairman, penned an op-ed in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal along with Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips, and charged that Congress should act.
"The best solution is for Congress to overturn the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas regulations outright. If Democrats refuse to join Republicans in doing so, then they should at least join a sensible bipartisan compromise to mandate that the EPA delay its regulations until the courts complete their examination of the agency's endangerment finding and proposed rules," the op-ed read in part.
With Republicans taking control in the House, the GOP will be in a better position to take on some of these policies, and members are promising a fight if the Obama White House moves forward with any carbon crackdown. There was bipartisan support for a bill proposed this year that would have stripped the EPA of the power to set carbon emissions limits. GOP lawmakers could bring the measure back.
The White House seems prepared for a fight.
The administration recently circulated a memo from the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren to the heads of all federal departments and agencies calling for "a clear prohibition on political interference in scientific processes and expanded assurances of transparency."
Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.