House Energy and Commerce Committee Votes to Prevent EPA from Regulating Greenhouse Gases

On Tuesday, March 15, 2011, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 190) passed through Congress’s House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. With a vote of 35-19, the Committee has recommended that H.R. 190 be considered by the House as a whole, and be subject to a full floor vote by the U.S. House of Representatives. The House is expected to vote on the bill before its Easter recess next month.

As currently written, H.R. 190 proposes to amend the Clean Air Act and prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to address climate change. The Clean Air Act, first enacted in 1963, was introduced with the purpose of reducing air pollution from stationary sources such as power plants and steel mills. Since its inception, the Clean Air Act has also recognized the hazards of automobile exhaust and other pollutants that have been identified as dangers to public health and welfare. The bill would run counter to the EPA’s 2009 determination that GHG emissions threaten the public health and welfare, and therefore undermine the authority under which the agency is able to regulate such substances under the Clean Air Act. Additionally, the legislation would revoke the EPA’s authority to grant California waivers the agency needs to impose stricter emissions requirements than those provided by federal standards.

If approved by the Republican-controlled House, H.R. 190 must also pass Senate scrutiny before proceeding to the White House for President Obama’s signature. Even assuming the unlikely scenario in which the bill passes out of the Senate, the President would be expected to veto the bill.