President Barack Obama is gearing up to unleash a torrent of new climate regulations in the next few months and there will be little the Republican Congress can do to stop it.
According to Politico
, the actions issued under executive order will focus on combating global warming, starting with a Dec. 1 proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten limits on the smog-causing ozone.
Business groups say it could be the "most expensive regulation in history," coming at a cost of $270 billion per year in compliance charges, while the new ozone standards would be nearly impossible for communities to achieve, according to The Hill
Other regulations will clamp down on the disposal of coal ash from power plants to prevent water contamination. And a new rule will also issue restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants, a key element of Obama's climate change agenda.
A separate initiative in China announced Wednesday saw the two countries jointly agreeing to targets to curb carbon emissions
over the next 25 years.
In addition, the U.S. is expected to commit up to billions of dollars to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change.
"The pending EPA actions alone could amount to the most ambitious burst of environmental regulatory activity from Washington since President George H.W. Bush approved a crucial set of amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990 — although Obama's administration has already taken several big strides of its own, including limits on mercury pollutions from power plans," Politico said.
In some cases, the administration had committed to a more scattered schedule of implementation with varying deadlines, but delays due to the 2012 or 2014 elections have led to the regulations coming out almost simultaneously.
There is also a list of regulations in the pipeline for 2015, the most significant of which is a rule for cutting greenhouse gases from the nation's existing power plants that has been the centerpiece of Obama's climate change agenda, Politico reported.
"In a world that was turned upside down on Election Day, two things are certain," Heather Zichal, Obama's former top climate change adviser, told Politico.
"One: Corporate polluters and their allies in Congress will continue to fight against progress on the broader climate agenda. Two: The president is and will remain 100 percent committed to his climate action plan and he'll fight to protect it."
Republicans are unlikely to be able reverse the most significant legislation Obama intends to enact. For one, they would not have enough votes to override a presidential veto.
Nevertheless, they may take steps to undermine the funding of the agency by creating riders in spending bills that would limit the enactment of some regulations.
"It's going to get harder for EPA," Christine Todd Whitman, EPA administrator under President George W. Bush, told Politico. "With Jim Inhofe as chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I think what they're going to do is starve the agency."
Meanwhile, business groups are bracing for the impact of the new climate regulations, and in some cases have pledged to fight them, The Hill reported.
"The EPA's regulatory march is very concerning to the business community," Matt Letourneau, spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce's energy institute, told Politico. "We're fighting these regulations," he added. "We're trying to encourage EPA to listen to our concerns. We're hoping EPA backs off or changes course."
But while businesses groups are up against environmental and public health groups, the two agree that the timing appears to have been driven by the conclusion of the election cycle.
"It's not surprising that the Obama administration would hold back some of these big regulations for political reasons," Sam Batkins, regulatory director at the conservative American Action Forum, told The Hill. "There's more than one instance of this happening over the past few years."
The onslaught of regulations will not be limited to the EPA. Other agencies also have plans to issue new regulations, prompting concerns among businesses.
According to The Hill, the Food and Drug Administration plans to unveil new labeling rules which will affect restaurants, delis, and bakeries at grocery stores, costing possibly billions of dollars.
And the Bureau of Land Management is preparing to issue its own set of rules for hydraulic fracturing. They would require companies to disclose the chemicals being used while drilling for gas.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also plans to issue new rules for hazardous materials being carried on trains, The Hill reported.
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