Energy industry concerned Obama could pursue end-run on climate change rules

The United States has joined nearly 200 countries at a United Nations climate summit in Doha, Qatar, this week with the primary goal of coming together on a treaty aimed at preventing what activists are calling dangerous climate change.

Some point to superstorm Sandy as a primary example of the need to curb emissions that they believe are fundamentally disrupting the way Earth's ecosystem works. They would like to have a treaty signed by 2015.

But many in the energy industry are concerned the Obama administration, fresh off a re-election win, will go too far with a radical environmental strategy that will have a negative impact on U.S. businesses and consumers – not just through the U.N., but executive edict.

"They brought hundreds of millions of dollars into his re-election campaign," said Michael Whatley, vice president of the Consumer Energy Alliance. He believes the president delayed consideration of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL Pipeline because he couldn't afford to lose allies in the environmental sector, and may now feel pressure to deliver to those groups. Indeed, on the night of his re-election, Obama vowed the U.S. would be a leader in combating a "warming planet."

For years, both Democrats and Republicans have blocked cap-and-trade legislation on Capitol Hill which would set emissions limits and fees for those who exceed them.  Now, a growing number of lawmakers are sounding an alarm about what they believe will be the Executive Branch's "end run" around Congress.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., believes, whether via a U.N. treaty or domestic regulations, Obama will continue to work toward reining in domestic energy production.

"The president couldn't get it done through legislation, so now he's doing it through regulation using our tax dollars to make it happen,” he said.

Inhofe sent a scathing recorded message to the U.N. gathering in Doha, chastising the administration for "quietly handing over billions of dollars to the United Nations in the name of global warming" as Washington runs up against a fiscal crisis.

But environmental groups say the president is simply doing his job. Bob Deans, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said they've found a partner in Obama.

"He understands that increased drought, record heat, wildfires, storms like Sandy ... are threats we need to do something about,” he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking the federal lead, beefing up enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act and issuing new regulations. Inhofe is keeping a close eye on those regulations, but says the administration is stonewalling.

Under current law, the administration is supposed to provide a full accounting every April and October of any proposed regulations that will have a "significant" economic impact. That hasn't happened since 2011.

Inhofe continues to push the White House for an explanation. A source at the White House, while not explaining the lapse, told Fox News that federal agencies are currently in the process of pulling together that information.