House EPA

Allison Glatfelter, Senior Analyst Wednesday October 22nd 2014

The House has considered a number of bills in 2014 to limit the EPA's ability to enforce and write new regulations. The EPA because of the nature of its work has often been at odds with heavy polluting industries such as coal.  In recent years the EPA has denied a number of high profile coal mining permits due to human safety issues involved with coal runoff.  The EPA is also released new coal regulations in during the 2014 summer and December 2013 that House Republicans and some coal state Democrats are eager to reverse.  The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA is a federal agency tasked with protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on Congressional law. The EPA was first created by President Richard Nixon on December 2, 1970.  The EPA conducts environmental assessment and research to justify new regulations and enforcement. The EPA works on a variety of federal, state, tribal and local environmental laws including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The EPA also works closely with many industries on a number of voluntary pollution programs.  Highlighted below are a few of the bills moving through the Congressional process.

H.R.4012 Secret Science Reform Act is a bill to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing regulations using non transparent science research, in other words if enacted the EPA would no longer be able to rely on medical data for new regulations where all personal identifiable information of individuals is not available to the public under a FOIA request.  H.R.524 is a bill to clarify that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot revoke a permit previously issued by the Army.  H.R.524 was written directly in response to a recent EPA decision upheld in legal litigation that revoked a coal mining permit in West Virginia. H.R.1493 or the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2013 is a bill to curb what sponsor call the sue and settle practice at federal regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Sue and settle is a controversial term and therefore hard to define. H.R. 4923 - The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2015 sets the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations levels for energy and water programs, policy riders in H.R.4923 include provisions to curtail the EPA's ability to enforce and develop Clean Air Act regulations.  On July 11, 2014 the Chair of the House Transportation Committee Bill Schuster (R-PA) introduced H.R. 5078: WOTUS Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014which prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering, or enforcing certain rules related to water.

None of these bills will be considered in the currently Democratic controlled Senate which is not interested in curtailing the EPA's power, in fact a possible appropriations showdown could occur shortly after summer recess as House Republicans have attached policy riders to appropriations legislation to limit the EPA's power.  The Senate, rather than risk entering a conference committee or have Senate Republicans attach these riders shelved it's own version of this legislation. 

 

A complete listing of related bills in Congress

  1. H.R.4012 - The Secret Science Reform Act,  sponsored by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ ) is a bill to change the types of research data the EPA can use to justify new rules. The EPA relies heavily on public health data when writing rules to combat dangerous pollution, such as water pollution, this legislation would eliminate the EPA's ability to use this date. (Reported by Committee 6/24//2014)
  2. H.R.1493 or the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2013 sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA): is a bill to curb the sue and settle practice at federal regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Sue and settle is a controversial term and therefore hard to define, however it means that agencies like the EPA allow law suits against them to proceed so that resulting judgments can become federal law.  Supporters of this legislation say that the practice allows the EPA and other similar agencies to work around the federal rule making process.  (Reported by Committee 6/24/2013)
  3. H.R. 5078: WOTUS Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL): prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering, or enforcing certain rules related to water. (Passed 7/16/2014)
  4. H.R. 4923 - The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2015,  sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID): sets the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations levels for energy and water programs, policy riders in H.R.4923 include provisions to curtail the EPA's ability to enforce and develop Clean Air Act regulations. (Passed the House 7/10/2014)
  5. H.R. 4854 – Regulatory Certainty Actsponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH): a bill to combat certain EPA fresh water regulation; and provide industry with a more certain regulatory future. (Reported by Committee 7/16/2014)
  6. H.R. 5077 – Coal Jobs Protection Act of 2014, sponsored by Rep. Shelley Capito (R-WV): a bill to combat certain EPA regulations related to coal mining that sponsors say threaten coal mining jobs.(Reported by Committee 7/16/2014)

Want more?

 http://water.epa.gov/aboutow/owow/waterqualityfacts.cfm 

 EPA Definition: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm 

The Hill: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/210130-fears-of-epa-land-grab-create-groundswell-against-water-rule#ixzz3A4w4otUv Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook 

Congressional Opposition Letter: http://www.miningamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/Collins-Schrader-Letter.pdf 

EPA Testimony, Small Business Committee Hearing, July 30: http://smallbusiness.house.gov/uploadedfiles/7-30-2014_perciasepe_testimony.pdf