House passes bill to block EPA clean air rules

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 23, 2011 2:44 PM
House passes bill to block EPA clean air rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that would block broad regulations to reduce unhealthy air emissions such as mercury from coal-fired power plants, a measure the White House has said President Barack Obama would veto.

The vote was 249 to 169.

The bill was expected to pass in the Republican-controlled House where lawmakers have targeted Environmental Protection Agency air rules, saying they would kill jobs and laden businesses with billions of dollars in additional costs at the worst possible time.

"The Obama Administration is moving too fast and showing little regard for the economic consequences of their energy and environmental policies," said Representative John Sullivan, who sponsored the bill.

The so-called Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation, or TRAIN, Act was also supported by less than 20 Democrats, mostly from coal and other energy-producing states.

The bill, which must be passed in the Democratic-controlled Senate and signed by Obama to become law, would set up an interagency panel led by the Commerce Department to assess the impact of EPA rules on the economy.

Such deliberations would delay several EPA rules including regulations on mercury emissions. The heavy metal accumulates in fish that can lead to neurological problems in people who consume them.

Environmentalists slammed the move, saying it would change the process for setting national air standards and lead to premature deaths from heart and lung illnesses.

"Sacrificing tens of thousands of American lives will not create more jobs," said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. "Burdening the American people with billions of dollars in health bills will not lead to economic growth."

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by Jim Marshall)