How is the new Republican Congress going to deal with the EPA?

In a Republican dominated America with many Republicans deeply skeptical of global warming, it is unlikely the new Congress will do much on the energy front. A broad plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and use the revenue to fund alternative energy — known as cap-and-trade — is dead

Vyng for the leadership post of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce when the Republicans take the reins in January are four interesting contenders:

  • Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill, who last year, while quoting the Bible in a House hearing said, “The earth will end only when God decides it’s time to be over. ‘This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.'”
  • Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who apologized to BP for what he called a White House “shakedown” when it agreed to establishing the $20 billion Gulf oil spill trust fund;
  • Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, who wants to open up Alaska’s wildlife refuge to drilling; and
  • Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan who is considered the front-runner and probably the most moderate of the bunch.  He has vowed to eliminate an offshoot of the committee, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and wrote in a recent editorial, “The American people do not need Congress to spend millions of dollars to write reports and fly around the world.  We must terminate this wasteful committee.”

There is one thing the newly empowered Republicans are sure to go after: the Environmental Protection Agency.

Over the past year, the EPA (after classifing greenhouse gases as a public health threat and then being under court order to do so after losing a Supreme Court challenge by the state of Massachusetts while under the Bush administration) has been quietly working on the sidelines to draft up rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Heavily targeted would be power plants, refineries, and heavy industries such as steel and concrete.

Republican lawmakers have made their intent clear and we can expect them to push for  more oversight of the EPA.  Even going as far as to try to pass legislation to limit the EPA’s authority.

Just last week, EPA issued guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions that will take effect this January. The guidelines were not particularly strict, which analysts took as a sign that the agency was willing to work with industry, but also as a sign that it plans on pressing ahead with its plan to regulate these gases

It seems that dealing with EPA is becoming a reality and Republican efforts to reign them in could get ugly.