WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a sharp challenge to the Obama administration, House Republican leaders intend to unveil legislation to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases, officials said. They expect to advance the bill quickly.
EPA chief Lisa Jackson was due on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for the first time since Republicans took over the House and gained seats in the Senate. She probably will have to defend steps by the EPA to control air pollution and water pollution to Senate Republicans, who have introduced bills of their own to delay regulations aimed at abating climate change, or to bar the government from using any environmental law to fight global warming pollution.
Officials said the House bill, which was to be offered Wednesday, would nullify all of the steps the EPA has taken to date on the issue, including a finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health.
In addition, it seeks to strip the agency of its authority to use the law in any future attempts to crack down on the emissions from factories, utilities and other stationary sources.
Many scientists say carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution contribute to global warming, and the attempt to reduce them is a major priority for President Barack Obama as well as environmentalists. Critics argue the evidence is thin and new rules would drive up costs for businesses and consumers and cause job losses.
The officials who described the GOP plans did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to pre-empt the release of a draft measure prepared by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.
Numerous House Republicans already have introduced legislation that would hamstring the EPA from moving forward with regulations to reduce heat-trapping pollution.
The efforts mark yet another arena in which newly empowered House Republicans are moving quickly to challenge the administration.
Sworn into office less than a month ago, the House has already voted to repeal last year's health care law and is advancing toward a series of expected confrontations with Obama over Republican demands for deep spending cuts. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, recently announced support for legislation to restrict abortions.
A vote on the greenhouse gases bill would occur first in the Energy and Commerce Committee, and is expected later this winter. The measure would then go to the House floor, where Republicans express confidence they have a strong enough majority to overcome objections by Democrats, many of whom are expected to oppose it on environmental grounds.
Republicans are attempting similar restrictions in the Senate, where the political situation is more complicated. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming has introduced a more sweeping measure than the one House Republicans are drafting. At the same time, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has proposed a two-year moratorium on EPA attempts to regulate greenhouse gases, a plan that already has attracted a handful of Democratic supporters.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, but it wasn't until the Obama administration took office that the effort began.
Initially, the administration's principal focus was on passage of legislation to impose restrictions, but that attempt failed when the Senate balked at a bill Democrats pushed through the House in 2009.