Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced a bill that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) directly regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, as the EPA is now attempting to do. The EPA has ordered states to begin issuing GHG permits to big emitters such as oil refineries, coal-burning power plants, cement factories and glass makers.
The bill would also bar federal agencies from taking GHGs into account when implementing the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The Hill said Barrasso’s bill is highly unlikely to pass.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va., pictured) introduced a less aggressive bill that would delay EPA regulation of industrial carbon dioxide emissions by two years. Co-sponsors include Democratic senators Jim Webb of Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bloomberg said
Rockefeller said the delay will give Congress time to draw up a new energy bill.
“Many of us agree that Congress, not the EPA, must be the decision-maker on such a challenging issue,” Rockefeller said in a statement.
The EPA introduced its regulations of GHG emissions during the last Congress, as it became increasingly clear that lawmakers would not be approving the creation of a cap-and-trade scheme or renewable electricity standard.
Meanwhile the Obama administration is planning a fresh push to get congressional support for energy legislation. Last year’s failed renewable electricity standard has been supplanted by a “clean energy standard”, unveiled by Obama in his State of the Union address.
The clean energy standard would include not only renewables but also nuclear power, “clean coal” and natural gas. Obama proposed that these sources should make up 80 percent of the country’s electricity by 2035.
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he supports the inclusion of nuclear power, as long as the legislation creates incentives for renewable sources.
But the Republican chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton, said such legislation would force consumers and businesses to buy energy they cannot afford.
And policy analyst Christine Tezak of RW Baird told Reuters that energy legislation seems not to be the Obama administration’s priority, as it deals with the political unrest in Egypt.
Instability in that country, and fears of a ripple effect through the Middle East, have sent the price of crude oil soaring. On Monday the European and Asian benchmark of Brent crude oil rose over $100 for the first time since October 2008, TheStreet reports. Brent crude settled at $101.01 a barrel, up $1.59, while the U.S. measure West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $92.19, up $2.85 or 3.2 percent – again, a price unmatched since October 2008, the LA Times said.