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Rockefeller Latest to Protect Local Industry From EPA Greenhouse Regs

December’s EPA finding that greenhouse gases endanger both public health and public welfare has been, for months, a thorn in the side of lawmakers from pollution-heavy states, who fear that stricter environmental protections — even in the name of human health — would hurt industries feeding local economies already struggling with prolonged jobs crises.

Many lawmakers — from Minnesota to Alaska to Missouri to North Dakota — are scouring for ways to block any new regulations the administration has in mind to apply. They may represent different industries, but their message is identical: Congress, not the EPA, should have the final say on how to regulate greenhouse emissions.

The latest figure to enter the ring is Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who introduced legislation today that would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases from “stationary sources” for two years. Stationary sources, of course, would include things like coal-fired electric plants, which want nothing more than to protect their access to unlimited supplies of cheap coal, much of which comes from West Virginia. For Rockefeller, the issue is one of economy.

Today, we took important action to safeguard jobs, the coal industry, and the entire economy as we move toward clean coal technology. This legislation will issue a two year suspension on EPA regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources — giving Congress the time it needs to address an issue as complicated and expansive as our energy future.

Congress, not the EPA, must be the ideal decision-maker on such a challenging issue.

That argument might be more persuasive if Congress could prove that it’s capable of being that decision-maker. Instead, on the toughest issues of the day — from health care reform, to deficit spending, to financial reform, to climate change — lawmakers have been frozen in a permanent state of partisan bickering that’s left nearly 300 House-passed bills sitting idle in the Senate.

The dysfunction hasn’t been lost on The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, who wonders this morning why lawmakers are so angry at the EPA for stepping in to tackle a pressing problem that Congress hasn’t.

“If Congress is so concerned, why can’t it get its act together and control greenhouse gas emissions so the EPA doesn’t have to?” Capehart asks. “The president and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have said over and over again that they want Congress to pass comprehensive climate change legislation. They have had and will have plenty of time to get it done.

“So, folks, what’s the hold up?”

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