REINing in Obama’s Regulatory Train Wreck

The House this week is considering two pieces of legislation designed to increase congressional oversight of the Obama administration’s jobs-killing regulatory agenda. One of the bills specifically targets the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) energy-related rules and mandates.

H.R. 1582, the Energy Consumers Relief Act, requires the EPA to submit to Congress a detailed analysis of the economic impacts of all energy-related rules costing more than $1 billion. The bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), would require the EPA to report the estimated impacts on jobs and energy prices before promulgating a final rule.

The Energy Consumers Relief Act also adds a layer of inter-agency review to the rulemaking process. The bill allows the Department of Energy (DOE) to prohibit EPA from promulgating costly rules if the agency determines the rule would have significant adverse effects on jobs and the economy.

Such oversight is long overdue, as the EPA has more regulatory actions pending review by the Office of Management and Budget than any other federal agency. The proposed Tier 3 rule, for example, increases gasoline costs for minimal environmental benefits, putting additional upward pressure on already high gas prices. Overall, federal regulations are estimated to cost $1.75 trillion per year.

The House may also vote soon on H.R. 367, the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act), which increases transparency by requiring an up-or-down vote in Congress on any rule with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more. The House passed the REINS Act in 2011 by a vote of 241-184.

With the recent confirmation of Gina McCarthy as EPA Administrator, President Obama is expected to move forward with his recently announced “climate action plan” to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants. These regulations will further distort energy markets, bankrupt coal-fired power plants, and impose higher energy prices on the American people. The Energy Consumers Relief Act and the REINS Act would go a long way toward protecting consumers from the EPA’s regulatory overreach.

Policy Intern Portia Conant authored this post.



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