Marten Law: Proposed Legislation Seeking to Block EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulation Picks Up Speed

   By Russell Prugh, Associate, Marten Law PLLC

“Congressional legislators in both houses have recently proposed bills to delay or block EPA from regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and other environmental laws. A growing, bipartisan group of legislators are supporting efforts to prohibit EPA from regulating GHGs and undo a number of existing EPA GHG actions. These legislative proposals complement efforts to block the GHG regulations through the courts,” writes Russell Prugh. “Over 80 lawsuits have been filed against EPA's GHG regulations by over 35 petitioners including states, industry groups, environmental NGOs, and others. In a related move, House Republicans introduced spending legislation on February 11 that would block EPA's current and pending GHG regulations for stationary sources for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

“Two of the recent legislative proposals seek to block EPA's effort to regulate GHGs altogether; while a third, introduced by Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, would delay EPA's GHG regulations. Senator James Inhofe and Representatives Fred Upton and Ed Whitfield have circulated draft legislation entitled the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (the Upton bill); while Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming has introduced a Senate bill termed Defending America's Affordable Energy and Jobs Act (the Barrasso bill),” reports the author. “Both the Barrasso and Upton bills would block each of EPA's GHG-related efforts under the CAA (except for the current Tailpipe Emission Standards). Barrasso's bill would go even further by preventing federal agencies from considering GHG related effects under other environmental statutes.”

“Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia has advanced a competing proposal to the Republicans' efforts to preempt EPA's GHG regulations. Rockefeller's bill, the EPA Regulations Suspension Act of 2011, takes a more moderate line by suspending selected EPA GHG regulations for two years,” explains Prugh. “During the two-year hiatus imposed by the bill, EPA would be prohibited from taking action under the CAA regarding any stationary source permitting requirement or any new source performance standards relating to CO2 or methane. Rockefeller's bill would not affect EPA's GHG reporting rules or the current Tailpipe Emission Standards.”

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Russell Prugh is an associate at Marten Law PLLC's Seattle office. Russell's practice focuses on environmental and natural resources litigation and environmental permitting for facilities and projects in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Russell has particular experience with stormwater compliance issues and in litigation arising under the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, MTCA, and other federal and state environmental laws. Russell earned his Juris Doctor, summa cum laude, from Vermont Law School, where he served as a National Moot Court Competition team member and as a managing editor of the Vermont Law Review. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Natural Resources from the University of the South (Sewanee). Prior to joining Marten Law Group, Russell served as a legal intern with the RCRA Enforcement Division of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., and a full-time intern to the Honorable John A. Dooley, Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court. Following law school, Russell served as law clerk to the Honorable Patrick J. McKay, Superior Court Judge, State of Alaska.

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