House Votes to Ban EPA from Considering Benefits of Climate, Energy Rules

Yesterday, the House passed a bill, the Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013, that would allow the Department of Energy to veto any U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that cost over $1 billion to implement, weakening the EPA’s ability to perform its statutorily required duties and violating the spirit and intention of the Clean Air Act.

The bill included an amendment by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) that would prohibit the EPA from considering the "social cost of carbon" on all cost-benefit analyses related to climate and energy standards. The amendment, which passed the House by a vote of 234-178, is a response to the administration’s recent decision to increase the social cost of carbon in line with estimates used by corporations like Exxon Mobil and Shell and is designed to ensure that many rules will appear more costly than they actually are.

Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) criticized the amendment as an attack on the agency’s efforts to consider the impacts of climate change. "The Murphy amendment denies that carbon pollution is harmful," Waxman said. "According to this amendment the cost of carbon pollution is zero. That is science denial at its worst."

By preventing EPA from considering important benefits, the House bill would force the agency to use inaccurate and unscientific measurements, setting a dangerous precedent for future rulemaking efforts and leaving Americans unprepared to deal with the ongoing threat of climate change. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it is unlikely to move forward.

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