GOP lawmakers have their sights set on stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to take action on climate change.
Last week, Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), a climate change denier, introduced the “Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017,” a resolution that seeks to rein in what he and dozens of other Republicans see as an abuse of statutory authority.
“No Federal agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under current law” and “no attempt to regulate greenhouse gases should be undertaken without further Congressional action,” it reads.
Initially introduced as H.R. 3880 in 2015, the measure would rewrite the Clean Air Act to exclude greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, from air pollutants the EPA is able to regulate. Additionally, it would repeal two Obama administration climate regulations: the Clean Power Plan and a rule setting methane emission standards for oil and gas operations.
Liz Perera, climate policy director at the Sierra Club, said the resolution would make it all but impossible for the federal government to combat a climate crisis that is already driving extreme weather.
“This is the legislative equivalent of trying to ban fire trucks while your house is burning,” she told The Huffington Post in an email, adding its sponsors “should be embarrassed for so blatantly ignoring reality and ashamed of themselves for so recklessly endangering our communities.”
Since President Donald Trump’s surprise election win, the EPA has found itself facing an uncertain future.
Both Trump and his nominee to lead the agency, Scott Pruitt, appear set on dismantling it. The Trump team is looking to cut the EPA’s budget by $815 million, including $513 million from states and tribal assistance grants and $193 million from climate programs, according to a report last week by Axios.
Last week, the EPA froze its grant programs and told its staff not to post to social media or communicate with the press, as HuffPost reported. The agency has not posted to Twitter since Trump took office.
Clearly unsatisfied with the idea of gutting the agency, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has drafted a bill to “completely abolish” it.
In an email Friday, Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, expressed his disgust with what’s happening in Congress.
“With the sideshow of Donald Trump serving as a distraction, the real damage is being done quietly by congressional republicans as they ram through a Koch Brothers-driven agenda to undermine efforts to combat climate change and to incentivize the environment-damaging fossil fuels they profit by,” he wrote. “It is obscene—it is an attack on the American people and indeed humanity, and it must be stopped.”
As of Friday, Palmer’s resolution had 114 co-sponsors ― all of them Republicans. It has been referred to four separate committees but not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
Neither the EPA nor Palmer’s office responded to HuffPost’s request for comment Friday.