Both The Hill and Politico report today that Republicans on Capitol Hill have gotten serious about curtailing the EPA’s proposed regulatory growth on climate change. The new House Energy and Commerce chair, Fred Upton, initially didn’t get much enthusiasm from the GOP base, thanks to his previously moderate stands and his acquiescence in the incandescent-bulb ban. According to the agenda Upton put together for this year, though, it appears he got the message and plans a tough fight against EPA director Lisa Jackson and the Obama administration:
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) plans to take dead aim at the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change regulations this year, according to a document obtained by The Hill laying out the panel’s 2011 agenda.
“Dead aim“? Say, isn’t that violent imagery?
“We believe it critical that the Obama administration ‘stop’ imposing its new global warming regulatory regime, which will undermine economic growth and U.S. competitiveness for no significant benefit,” says the document, which lays out a suite of “key issues” that will come before the committee.
While the individual items included in the document are not surprising, the agenda, taken as a whole, illustrates the breadth of GOP opposition to the White House energy and environment agenda.
Upton plans to frame the case to the public by arguing that the EPA and its expanded regulations will suppress any potential economic recovery for the foreseeable future:
“The stakes could not be higher,” the document says. “ If the Obama administration succeeds in imposing unaffordable and unworkable permitting and other rules through EPA, it will severely impede the domestic manufacturing and industrial growth necessary for this nation to create jobs and emerge from a devastating recession.”
In the Senate, they’re aiming for a full repeal of the EPA’s climate-change mandate, and think they will get enough Democrats on board to pass it:
Most Senate Republicans think the sweeping repeal of EPA authority is the best approach, a Senate aide said, and they’re confident they can get broad Democratic support.
“There’s anywhere from 12 to 15 Democrats that we are eying that we think would have an interest in supporting a bill like this,” the aide said. Among the Democrats Republicans are watching: Bob Casey (Pa.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Jim Webb (Va.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), John Rockefeller (W.Va.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.).
“Those are the guys that we are looking at as either possible co-sponsors or folks who would end up supporting us or folks who are going to face some pressure back home,” the aide said.
There is certainly a good possibility of getting such a bill passed in the Senate, and it would fly through the House. Democratic Senators in the Coal Belt and Rust Belt already looking askance at the 2012 elections will need to show their bona fides on protecting fragile state economies, and the EPA’s recent permit actions against coal miners will increase that pressure. Klobuchar probably won’t play along, and perhaps Sherrod Brown might pass on support as well, but the rest are already questioning the EPA’s actions outside of Congressional authority, especially Rockefeller.
The problem with repeal is that it would have to get Barack Obama’s signature. That seems rather unlikely, unless Obama really starts falling in the polls. Right now, the first indicators of 2011 have him rebounding a bit, and he can find other areas for bipartisanship than handcuffing his own EPA, perhaps on tax reform. If Obama vetoes a repeal bill, Republicans will have to find 20 Democrats to sustain an override, not just the 12 or 15 Politico counts at the moment for simple passage. That may be impossible to get, but just having Obama veto it will put Congress on record for having opposed the expansion of jurisdiction claimed by the administration, which will make Obama look even more outside the mainstream.
As with the budget cuts, it looks as though Republicans came to Washington to fight hard. As Upton says, this is one of the key fights most worth having in the 112th Session.