The White House threatened on Wednesday to veto the latest attempt by House Republicans to thwart pollution regulations, saying the GOP-backed bill would delay and undermine critical health protections.
The Republican-controlled House is set to debate and vote on the legislation later this week. The bill sponsored by Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., requires the president to set up a Cabinet-level committee to examine the cumulative toll of Environmental Protection Agency rules on electricity and gas prices, electric reliability and jobs. Republicans also plan to tack on a measure to slow for years regulations intended to curb mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants and to reduce smokestack emissions that blow downwind into other states.
Republicans say the analysis is needed to prevent regulations from doing unnecessary harm to the economy. But Democrats have argued that the bill fails to account for the benefits of environmental regulations, such as the savings from avoided doctor and emergency room visits.
The White House _ which earlier this month delayed issuing stricter smog standards, citing economic reasons _ said such reports were redundant and costly.
The EPA already conducts economic analyses of regulations, and so do the White House and Congress, but federal law bars the agency from considering costs when setting health-based air pollution standards, such as for ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog. The bill would change that. It's likely to pass the House, but its chances in the Democrat-controlled Senate are less certain.
Senate Democratic leaders vowed Wednesday to block the House's attempts to stall the EPA.
"It is outrageous that in this century we have to protect a law that has ... proven itself over and over again in its health benefits and its benefits to this economy," California Sen. Barbara Boxer, the chairwoman of the Senate environmental panel, said at a news conference.
Meanwhile, a key House panel on Wednesday cleared two other bills aimed at EPA rules reducing pollution. Those bills would delay efforts to control pollution from cement plants and industrial boilers.
Follow Dina Cappiello on Twitter (at)dinacappiello