House Republicans plan to hold their first hearing Friday on draft legislation that would block any new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would raise energy prices or cost jobs, their latest bid to thwart the Obama administration's efforts to cut pollution from coal.
House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., scheduled the hearing on the draft, titled the Energy Consumer Relief Act.
Announced late last Friday, the draft reflects House Republicans opposition to EPA pollution rules and proposals to limit toxics, smog-forming soot and greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and pollution from coal mining.
It would require reviews of future major EPA proposals similar to those called for in the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011 by Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla. His bill passed the House that year over the opposition of the White House, which issued a statement saying it would "slow or undermine important public health protections."
That bill was passed again through the House last fall as part of the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012. Neither measure advanced in the Senate.
The new bill would require the EPA administrator to delay finalizing rules with estimated costs of $1 billion or more until they submit a report to Congress outlining direct and indirect costs, any increase in energy prices, and job impacts.
It would also mandate an independent analysis by the Energy Department of potential energy price increases, electricity reliability impacts and and shifts in energy sources. If the department finds impacts to any of those areas, the Commerce and Labor Departments would be required to determine any adverse effects on the economy.
Such a finding would prohibit EPA from going ahead with the rule.
"It is commonsense policy to want to understand how any rule costing over a billion dollars will affect energy prices, employment, and the economy," Whitfield said. "This will protect consumers and will make sure EPA does its job."