Success of EPA Climate Standards Will Depend on White House Support

Back in June, President Obama announced a bold plan to address climate change. Now that Gina McCarthy has finally been confirmed as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), advocates are counting on the agency to move quickly on the president's promises.

But the success of any EPA effort will depend on support from the White House, namely in clearing away delays caused by its Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Far too often, crucial health, safety, and environmental protections are dropped into a rabbit hole of never-ending review at OIRA, and the office frequently misses its review deadlines.

As Robert R.M. Verchick noted yesterday in The Hill

By executive order, OIRA is required to review submitted agency proposals within 90 days…. [I]n the Obama administration, the trains no longer run on time. Of the 136 draft rules under review at OIRA, 72 have been held up for longer than the 90-day limit. Of those, 38 have been stalled for over a year. Nine rules from the Department of Energy have been at OIRA for over two years and deal directly with energy efficiency standards the President himself touted in his 2013 State of the Union address. In his climate address, for example, the President instructed EPA to issue stricter limits on power plant emissions, saying he wanted them by this September.

If President Obama wants swift, effective action on climate change, he'll need to show strong support for McCarthy and make clear to OIRA that he will not tolerate any delays in reviewing EPA's standards.

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