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Republicans ready to battle it out with EPA

Freedom New Mexico

Congressional Republicans, emboldened by the party’s midterm election victories, promise to force up-or-down votes on many economically harmful regulations planned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’re not going to let EPA regulate what they’ve been unable to legislate,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., told Upton, who hopes in the new Congress in January to become chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and other key Republicans will seek to block or effectively nullify controversial regulations.

The strategy is multifaceted and includes invoking the rarely used Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to essentially veto newly drafted regulations without obtaining the difficult 60-vote approval usually needed for Senate action. The House, now controlled by Republicans, is expected to support GOP senators.

Republicans expect several Democrats to join them, a key to overcoming presidential vetoes. “Democrats received the message loud and clear about the Obama agenda” sent by voters in November, said a spokesman for Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

The looming showdown focuses on new regulations for air quality, toxic emissions and a decision on whether to regulate coal ash as a hazardous material. Republicans won’t be limited to the Congressional Review Act, which has been used successfully once since adoption in 1996, to overturn a Clinton administration economic rule.

The GOP also is expected to force the administration to obtain congressional approval before major rule changes can take effect. Moreover, says Politico, “a popular strategy in both chambers next year will be to choke off funding for contentious EPA regulations, including efforts to address global warming.”

The Obama administration, despite having a Democratic-controlled Senate, scrapped its cap-and-trade legislation to impose added costs and place limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The Senate in January will have six more Republicans, cutting the Democratic edge to 53-47, making legislative success even less likely for the administration.

Administration critics have expected the EPA to impose administratively what the White House couldn’t achieve legislatively. But with newly won control of the House and bolstered strength in the Senate, Republicans now will try to block administrative regulatory efforts as well.

The GOP shouldn’t dally. The EPA announced this week it will provide power companies and states new instructions for regulating greenhouse gases. A lobbyist for two major power companies told Bloomberg News that the new edicts mean “the energy and manufacturing sector will essentially be in a construction moratorium.” A study by the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI warned that new standard alone would destroy 7.3 million jobs nationwide and add $1 trillion a year in regulatory costs.