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GOP Plans to Harass EPA on Greenhouse Gas Regulation

(photo: AdamCohn)

One area where a new GOP-heavy Congress would focus in the coming year is on the major agenda item that Democrats didn’t make much progress on when they had big majorities: climate change. Right now, the fallback solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to use the EPA to regulate, but experts believe that will fall short of the carbon reduction promised by the passage of legislation. Nevertheless, every greenhouse gas emission is sacred to the Republicans, so they plan to harass the EPA Administrator and make her life miserable.

The attack, according to senior Republicans, will seek to portray the EPA as abusing its authority and damaging the economy with needless government regulations.

In addition, GOP leaders say, they will focus on what they see as distortions of scientific evidence regarding climate change and on Obama administration efforts to achieve by executive rule-making what it failed to win from Congress […]

But the GOP’s plans for wide-ranging and sustained investigations by congressional committees could put the EPA and administration environmental policymakers on the defensive and create political pressures that could cause Obama to pull back on environmental issues as the 2012 presidential election draws closer.

It seems that the Republicans know precisely how politics and policy are completely intertwined. They know they cannot put together some bill to maximize carbon pollution, or even to block the EPA from following its mandate. The President’s veto pen would stall that out. So they plan to basically use their position to harass Lisa Jackson and demonize climate science for two years until its defenders collapse under the pressure. Jackson is already saying this pressure could hamper her work.

Meanwhile, while hamstringing the EPA with one hand, I would expect some “compromise” energy bill giving Republicans most of what they want, so a “victory” could be announced and bipartisanship claimed. This would include giveaways to offshore oil producers, nuclear power plant operators and so-called “clean coal” enthusiasts.

And while the US continues to participate in climate talks with the nations of the world, they now have almost no ability to follow through on any of the promises they can make, including climate assistance for poorer nations who will bear the brunt of the effects of a warming planet.

The failure to set a course for dealing with climate change will expand with the ushering in of a new Congress.

CommunityThe Bullpen

GOP Plans to Harass EPA on Greenhouse Gas Regulation

One area where a new GOP-heavy Congress would focus in the coming year is on the major agenda item that Democrats didn’t make much progress on when they had big majorities: climate change. Right now, the fallback solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to use the EPA to regulate, but experts believe that will fall short of the carbon reduction promised by the passage of legislation. Nevertheless, every greenhouse gas emission is sacred to the Republicans, so they plan to harass the EPA Administrator and make her life miserable.

The attack, according to senior Republicans, will seek to portray the EPA as abusing its authority and damaging the economy with needless government regulations.

In addition, GOP leaders say, they will focus on what they see as distortions of scientific evidence regarding climate change and on Obama administration efforts to achieve by executive rule-making what it failed to win from Congress […]

But the GOP’s plans for wide-ranging and sustained investigations by congressional committees could put the EPA and administration environmental policymakers on the defensive and create political pressures that could cause Obama to pull back on environmental issues as the 2012 presidential election draws closer.

It seems that the Republicans know precisely how politics and policy are completely intertwined. They know they cannot put together some bill to maximize carbon pollution, or even to block the EPA from following its mandate. The President’s veto pen would stall that out. So they plan to basically use their position to harass Lisa Jackson and demonize climate science for two years until its defenders collapse under the pressure. Jackson is already saying this pressure could hamper her work.

Meanwhile, while hamstringing the EPA with one hand, I would expect some “compromise” energy bill giving Republicans most of what they want, so a “victory” could be announced and bipartisanship claimed. This would include giveaways to offshore oil producers, nuclear power plant operators and so-called “clean coal” enthusiasts.

And while the US continues to participate in climate talks with the nations of the world, they now have almost no ability to follow through on any of the promises they can make, including climate assistance for poorer nations who will bear the brunt of the effects of a warming planet.

The failure to set a course for dealing with climate change will expand with the ushering in of a new Congress.

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David Dayen

David Dayen