The man who will lead the House Energy and Commerce Committee is not wasting any time when it comes to taking on the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA.
On Tuesday, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that outlines how the soon-to-be committee chair really feels about the EPA and its plans to regulate greenhouse gases. Upton called the agency’s plans, “an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs — unless Congress steps in.”
Upton’s op-ed was co-written by Tim Phillips, the president of the conservative Americans for Prosperity organization. The piece arrived less than a week after the EPA came up with a timeline for releasing new emissions regulations on petroleum refineries and coal and oil-fired power plants.
While the soon-to-be chairman is using his new high profile position to fire his first shot against the EPA, he is neither the first Washington politician to do so, nor will he be the last. Over the summer Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was behind a failed effort to strip the EPA from regulatory authority when it came to greenhouse gases. In the coming weeks, it is likely that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) will move forward with an attempt to delay the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases for two years.
Both Upton’s words and Rockefeller’s plans may be a sign of an extension of the partisan feelings inside the Beltway, but it also may be a strategy for reaching a bipartisan agreement when it comes to the EPA’s controversial methods. In the Upton-Phillips piece, the two write that if attempts to overhaul the EPA’s authority fail, this effort will give Democrats an opportunity to, “at least join a sensible bipartisan compromise to mandate that the EPA delay its regulations until the courts complete their examinations.” This would be an opening for the Rockefeller plan while several states and private entities pursue lawsuits against the EPA.
This compromise may end up being what happens. A Murkowski plan or a Rockefeller plan would still be subject to a likely presidential veto, and Republicans still don’t have the votes to overturn anything President Obama dislikes. But perhaps this warning shot is not the hyperbolic statement that it appears to be, but rather a tactical step towards some kind of compromise. Though it appears the EPA has a big red target on its back, the question will be does the EPA keeps its authority by dodging the bombs thrown by those on the right, by ignoring the bombs from the right or compromising itself into a politically safer position? Bombs away.