House Committee Moves to Block EPA Restrictions

Published August 1, 2011

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has approved a bill to block funding of controversial Environmental Protection Agency restrictions, including carbon dioxide emissions and vehicle mileage mandates. The Appropriations Committee bill would cut EPA’s fiscal 2012 budget 18 percent below fiscal 2011 levels, imposing explicit prohibitions on enforcement of certain EPA regulations.

Mileage Restrictions Blocked
The appropriations bill, which still must be approved by the full House, blocks EPA from settling vehicle tailpipe emissions limits for the 2017-25 model years, and it prohibits California from setting its own rules (which other states would then be legally allowed to follow).

Rep. John Carter (R-TX) and Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) successfully submitted amendments to the bill stripping EPA of the ability to issue regulations on vehicle fuel economy that conflict with the standards authorized by Congress under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Program, known as CAFE standards. EPA has signaled it wants to bypass the CAFE standards and impose a 56.2 miles-per-gallon (mpg) average fuel economy standard for the 2017-2025 model years. Under current authorized CAFE standards, the auto industry is on track to meet a 34.1 mpg standard for the 2012-2016 model years, and to surpass the Congressional goal of 35 mpg by 2020.

“EPA’s power grab over vehicle gas mileage standards has been dealt a major blow” in this “pickup truck-saving amendment,” said Carter in a July 13 press statement.

“We are trying to stop nothing short of the brazen EPA attempt to override congressional fuel mileage standards oversight and impose a radical leftist agenda,” Carter explained. “There is no way that pickup trucks could stay on the market at prices affordable for average Americans under these kind of restrictions. Washington bureaucrats are so out-of-touch with real life in America they can’t conceive of the personal and economic damage they would cause by effectively taking the American pickup off the road for our farmers, ranchers, construction workers, and so many others who rely on them to do their daily jobs.”

Saving Inexpensive Electricity
The bill would also prevent EPA from implementing carbon dioxide restrictions that have already led power companies to announce the closing of power plants producing inexpensive coal-powered electricity.

The Appropriations Committee report on the bill noted, “EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases are illustrative of the challenges facing the Committee each year” and “EPA took action in the absence of legislation and without clear congressional direction.”

“EPA’s … pursuit of an overly aggressive regulatory agenda [is] demonstrative of an agency that has lost its bearing,” the report explained. In addition, “the impact of this agenda on our national economy … is staggering,” the report stated. “The Committee believes these and other regulatory efforts are an impediment to long-term economic growth.”

Reining in EPA
“It is important for our elected representatives to keep up the pressure on the unaccountable, runaway bureaucrats at the EPA who continue their campaign to gain control over the energy sector of the economy with willful disregard for its effects,” said Steven F. Hayward, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

“The desperate, now-or-never attitude of the Obama EPA on both the transportation and stationary source sides is so at odds with economic recovery that the U.S. House is responding appropriately,” said Robert Bradley, CEO of the Institute for Energy Research.

D. Brady Nelson ([email protected]) is a Milwaukee-based economist.