It appears a shift of congressional power afforded through the November 4 election is already having an effect on environmental regulations.
In June, the Obama administration ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cut carbon pollution from nation’s power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
This is not just about disappearing polar bears or melting ice caps,” said Gina McCarthy, administrator, EPA, at a June news conference in Washington, District of Columbia. “This is about protecting our health and our homes. This is about protecting local economies and jobs.”
If implemented, critics suggest the regulation would lead to the closing of hundreds of coal-fired plants and significantly alter the American electricity industry.
However, newly elected Republican leadership, including Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, incoming chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, aren’t as optimistic about the ruling.
According to an article published by The Hill, Inhofe has urged the Obama administration to withdraw its Clean Air Act proposal aimed at cutting carbon emissions from existing power plants.
Several organizations are joining in the fight and have threatened legal action against the order.
“Obama continues to wage this war on American energy simply to appease what appears to be a tiny sliver of environmental extremists,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in an article published by Fuel Fix. “Today, we’re calling on President Obama to end his war on the energy industry because it will lead to greater reliance on foreign oil.
Inhofe agreed with Perry, hinting that politics is navigating the EPA’s agenda.
“The agency has been clever to disguise the expansion of its authority as being ‘cooperative’ and ‘flexible,’ but the agency’s real motivation is to advance a political agenda that it doesn’t have the authority to implement on its own,” Inhofe wrote in a letter sent to EPA chief Gina McCarthy on Monday.
If all else fails, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, stressed he will attempt to block the Clean Air Act through appropriations riders in 2015.
Litigation — or at least the threat thereof — continues to drive, or prevent, government decisions. And, remember, hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants have a seat at the Clean Air Act table.
In the Clean Air Act, the Obama administration has directed the EPA to start delisting the most potent climate-impacting HFCs from its Significant New Alternatives Program (SNAP).
A recent Washington Courier Journal article predicted politicians could bring forth an “effort to undermine the EPA’s Supreme Court-approved authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.”
An official ruling on the aforementioned SNAP regulations is expected this summer — however, based on the current coal-inspired political bombs being thrown — and the uncertainty a lame-duck period can bring — perhaps the industry has no choice but to wade in the waters of uncertainty, yet again.