Republicans Plan Funding Ban for EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rule

Jun 13, 2014 9:06 am ET

(Updates with new Daines bill and other legislation starting in 13th paragraph.)

June 13 (Bloomberg) -- Republicans will try to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed greenhouse-gas rule by denying the funding to implement it, according to a senior member of a U.S. House appropriations panel.

The funding ban “will be in Interior,” Idaho Republican Mike Simpson said, referring to the spending bill being drafted for the Department of Interior and EPA. Simpson, head of the House’s Energy-Water Appropriations subcommittee, formerly chairman of the Interior and Environment appropriations panel.

“We’re going to take a serious look at it,” Representative Ken Calvert, a California Republican and chairman of the Interior-Environment subcommittee, said in a separate interview at the Capitol.

“It wouldn’t surprise me” if a funding ban were included in the money bill his panel is crafting, he said. “There’s great interest from a lot of members.”

The EPA’s proposed carbon rule, released earlier this month, would require state-by-state limitations on carbon dioxide emissions that would reduce the national output by 17 percent from current levels by 2030.

Because the spending bill must pass to keep the Interior Department and the EPA running, it’s an attractive vehicle for bringing media and public attention to the emissions issue. Republicans would embrace a pitched battle over a carbon rule they say will kill jobs in coal-rich parts of the country.

“Overwhelming Majority’

President Barack Obama supports the proposal as a needed step to fight global warming, and his administration has been expecting a fight over the plan. John Podesta, the president’s top adviser on climate change, said last month that Republicans have a ‘‘zero percent chance” of stopping the rule.

Democrats can be counted on to back the EPA rule, Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat, said in an interview last week.

“The overwhelming majority of our party is going to support it and the Senate’s not going to pass a repeal” of the regulation, he said.

“Nor will the president sign it,” Hoyer said. “And if it got to him, we’d sustain his veto.”

While Republicans have the House majority, Democrats control the Senate.

New Legislation

Republicans may also look to move bills specifically targeting the rule.

Representative Steve Daines, a Montana Republican running for the U.S. Senate in November, introduced legislation yesterday that would block the proposed rules from taking effect unless other federal agencies certified they wouldn’t cost jobs or raise electricity prices.

Another bill, sponsored by Republican David McKinley and Democrat Nick Rahall, both of West Virginia, would block the rule and bar EPA from making any similar regulations for at least five years unless Congress specifically approved them. The Daines bill is H.R. 4850; McKinley-Rahall is H.R. 4813.

Simpson said the funding ban might not be included in the initial text of the Interior Department-EPA funding measure because Republicans may want to make lawmakers vote to specifically put it in.

A similar ban may be offered as an amendment to another appropriations bill, Simpson said, though the Interior measure is currently the preferred vehicle.

A floor vote on the EPA rule could put coal-state Democrats in the House and Senate in a tight spot, making them choose between Obama’s policy and a key local industry in a midterm election year.

--With assistance from Jonathan Allen and Lisa Lerer in Washington.