03.04.2011 0

House Republicans Confront the EPA with Tea Party Vigor, As Gingrich Seeks to Placate Free Market Critics

Newt Gingrich and the EPA

By Kevin Mooney –

This is not your father’s Republican House of Representatives; the one that played footsie with environmental groups. In fact, GOP lawmakers have already moved decisively to curtail the power and influence of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has extended its regulatory reach without congressional approval.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rodgers (R-Ky.) has introduced a continuing resolution that would cut $61 billion from government operations through Sept. 30. Tea Party activists, who have very astutely maintained pressure on the GOP majority, have good reason to be pleased. The legislation cuts the EPA’s budget by $3 billion, which is nearly 30 percent the 2010 level of $10.3 billion. It would also withhold funding for any current and future EPA greenhouse gas regulations on stationary sources. That’s a nice step forward for the cause of limited government.

Recall that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who is contemplating a presidential run, has been criticized by some on the right for advancing his own green agenda. He discussed the topic at some length during his presentation to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). In his talk, Gingrich called for abolishing the EPA and replacing it with a new agency that would not be as hostile toward private industry. Gingrich has also testified on Capitol Hill against “cap and trade” legislation that the current administration favors. Even so, some free market groups are unconvinced Gingrich will commit himself to policies that protect the business community from burdensome regulations. In a joint TV spot with then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Gingrich suggested reshaping public policy to address climate change.

But regardless of where top Republicans officials stand on the science behind so-called “man-made” global warming, the party is unified against the EPA’s overreach. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that deals with the renegade agency, has said the new bill’s rider on greenhouse gas regulation would give the Energy and Commerce Committee “time to craft thoughtful, effective legislation to clarify EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act and provide certainty for job creators.”

There’s more.

House Republicans have also proposed cuts to the EPA aimed its Global Change Program, which measures the potential fallout from climate change. The bill would chop $7 million from the $21 million the program received in 2010. The EPA’s Energy Star program would be also be reduced by about $10 million from where it was in 2010.

President Obama has said he will veto any legislation that strips EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases. But the Republicans are pressing ahead. Most recently, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) introduced a version of Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-WY) bill to pre-empt permanently all regulation of greenhouse gas emissions using any existing legal authority. Walberg’s bill, H.R. 750, has been referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee. Over on the Senate side, Barrasso’s S. 228 has 16 co-sponsors.

Republican presidential contenders may find they need to follow the lead of House Republicans who have thrown down the gauntlet against Team Obama and the extra-constitutional activities of the EPA.

Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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