Issue Date: January 31, 2011
Regulation: House Lawmakers Quiz White House Official About EPA Rules
House Republicans grilled President Barack Obama’s regulatory gatekeeper at a hearing last week that probed two key EPA decisions on air pollution.
At issue for lawmakers on the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations was EPA’s pending rule to reduce toxic air pollutants from industrial boilers. Chemical makers and a number of legislators fear the rule will lead to a loss of manufacturing jobs (C&EN, Dec. 13, 2010, page 24). EPA is under a court order to issue the regulation by Feb. 21 (see page 10).
Cass R. Sunstein, who heads the information and regulatory affairs section at the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) that must approve all federal regulations, testified that the boiler rule will undergo review in light of a Jan. 18 executive order from Obama. That directive instructs federal agencies to ensure all regulations support economic growth and spur the creation of jobs (C&EN, Jan. 24, page 10).
EPA is alert to lawmakers’ and industry’s concerns about the rule, Sunstein told the panel. “We’re going to do the best we can to get it right and keep the cost down,” he added.
Republican lawmakers also pressed Sunstein about EPA’s December 2009 determination that emissions of greenhouse gases endanger human health and should thus be regulated. Sunstein replied that this action was a scientific finding, not a federal regulation. It has imposed no costs on—nor provided benefits to—Americans, he said.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chairs the Energy & Commerce Committee, said he is compiling a list of regulations that House lawmakers want repealed. Sunstein said OMB welcomes the input.
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