The EPA's influence has grown dramatically since the start of the Obama administration, with the agency imposing costly regulations on the states at a record pace, according to a newly released study. 

The American Legislative Exchange Council released its annual report on the EPA hours after President Obama announced a new climate change strategy which includes additional EPA regulations. 

The ALEC report showed that in President Obama's first term, the number of times the agency has rejected state proposals or taken over state programs has skyrocketed. 

"The agency has expanded its own prerogatives, at the expense of the states' rightful authority," the report said. 

The report looked first at the EPA's efforts to ensure states comply with the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. During the second term of the George W. Bush administration, the EPA rejected state proposals a total of just 12 times. During the last four years, the Obama EPA rejected those proposals 95 times. 

The EPA also initiated a total of 19 state-level takeovers in that time, something the EPA rarely did in the years preceding the Obama administration. 

Further, ALEC, a business-funded organization, looked at what it described as the "sue-and-settle" strategy -- a scenario in which environmental groups sue the EPA, which then settles with those groups instead of challenging them. 

"Sue and settle allows the EPA to replace input from the states with that from professional environmentalists," the report said. It found the number of sue-and-settle cases has risen from 15 during the second term of the Clinton administration to 48 in Obama's first term, producing $13 billion in annual regulatory costs. 

Obama, in defending his administration's energy policies and the EPA's mission, noted Tuesday that the Clean Air Act of 1970 passed Congress almost unanimously. And he reminded the public that the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gasses are considered pollutants under that law. 

"They required the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, to determine whether they're a threat to our health and welfare. In 2009, the EPA determined that they are a threat to both our health and our welfare in many different ways -- from dirtier air to more common heat waves -- and, therefore, subject to regulation," he said. 

Pointing to the threat of climate change, the president said the U.S. needs to act "before it's too late."