Government and Business

Idaho's Simpson aims to block EPA emissions cuts

House Republicans plan to deny funding needed to carry out the Obama administration's new rules.

BLOOMBERG NEWSJune 18, 2014 

Idaho GOP Debate

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson debates challenger Bryan Smith at Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls in April.

ASHLEY SMITH — (Twin Falls) Times-News

Republicans will try to block the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed greenhouse-gas rule by denying the money to implement it, according to U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, the Idaho Republican who is a senior member of a U.S. House appropriations panel.

The funding ban "will be in Interior," Simpson says, referring to the spending bill being drafted for the Department of Interior and EPA. Simpson is head of the House's Energy-Water Appropriations subcommittee and is the former chairman of the Interior and Environment appropriations panel.

The EPA's proposed carbon rule, released earlier this month, would require state-by-state limitations on carbon dioxide emissions that would reduce the national output by 17 percent from current levels by 2030. Idaho would be affected less than some other states.

Because the spending bill must pass to keep the Interior department and the EPA running, it's an attractive vehicle for bringing media and public attention to the emissions issue. Republicans would embrace a pitched battle over a carbon rule that they say will kill jobs in coal-rich parts of the country.

Simpson says the funding ban might not be included in the initial text of the funding measure because Republicans might want to make lawmakers vote to specifically put it in.

A similar ban might be offered as an amendment to another appropriations bill, Simpson says, though the Interior measure is currently the preferred vehicle.

A floor vote on the EPA rule could put coal-state Democrats in the House and Senate in a tight spot, making them choose between Obama's policy and a key local industry in a midterm election year.

'OVERWHELMING MAJORITY'

President Barack Obama supports the proposal as a needed step to fight global warming, and his administration has been expecting a fight over the plan. John Podesta, the president's top adviser on climate change, said last month that Republicans have a ''zero percent chance" of stopping the rule.

Democrats can be counted on to back the EPA rule, said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat.

"The overwhelming majority of our party is going to support it and the Senate's not going to pass a repeal" of the regulation, he says.

"Nor will the president sign it," Hoyer says. "And if it got to him, we'd sustain his veto."

Though Republicans have the House majority, Democrats control the Senate.

Republicans also might look to move bills specifically targeting the rule.

Rep. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican running for the Senate in November, introduced legislation that would block the proposed rules from taking effect unless other federal agencies certified they wouldn't cost jobs or raise electricity prices.

Another bill, sponsored by Republican David McKinley and Democrat Nick Rahall, both of coal-rich West Virginia, would block the rule and bar EPA from making any similar regulations for at least five years unless Congress specifically approved them.

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