House v. EPA, Round One

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That didn’t take long. On the first day of the 112th Congress, a group of Republican members—and one Democrat—offered a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating planet-warming gases under the Clean Air Act.

E2 Wire flagged a note in the Congressional Register that Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) yesterday introduced a bill to amend the Clean Air Act, though the description didn’t include much detail. A spokesman for the representative confirmed to Mother Jones that the new bill is exactly the same as HR 391, which Blackburn and others filed in January 2009. She’s introduced a measure just like it, though the new text isn’t posted yet.

The measure is just over one page in length, and would alter the Clean Air Act to specifically exclude greenhouse gases from regulation. It goes so far as to specify that carbon dioxide should not be considered pollution at all. “The term ‘air pollutant’ shall not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride,” the bill states.

In case that wasn’t enough, it goes on: “Nothing in the Clean Air Act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming.” The measure has 45 Republican co-sponsors and one Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma.

This is, of course, another tactic for subverting the Supreme Court’s 2007 determination that greenhouse gases could be regulated under the Clean Air Act if those gases are determined to pose a threat to human health. The EPA formally made that finding nearly two years ago, and is now following through with new regulations, which began phasing in on Jan. 2. Another option that Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has floated would use the Congressional Review Act to block the EPA rules from going into effect. Upton is, notably, not a cosponsor of Blackburn’s bill.

This is likely only the opening salvo in the fight against EPA regulations in the House this year.

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