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HomeGreen BusHouse Republicans Urge EPA to Reconsider Biden ‘Rush-to-Green' Agenda

House Republicans Urge EPA to Reconsider Biden ‘Rush-to-Green’ Agenda

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Environment, Manufacturing, & Critical Materials Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson of Ohio want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop bypassing Congress to advance the Biden administration’s “rush-to-green” agenda.

McMorris Rodgers and Johnson sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Friday that highlights “deep concerns” with a Sept. 28 memo directing all agency enforcement and compliance offices to prioritize and address climate change. The EPA cites President Joe Biden’s executive order 14008 in January 2021, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” which states that climate considerations are an essential element of all U.S. domestic and foreign policy as well as national security.

But Republicans say the EPA’s climate enforcement and compliance strategy appears to target “disfavored industries or businesses” and notes that Congress did not authorize economic sanctions for normal operations.

“The EPA’s repeated use of settlement authority to drive a consistent policy end, one which Congress has not enshrined in statute and may not be directly related to the violation necessitating enforcement, is an unconstitutional usurping of Article I authority,” the letter states. “Executive orders are exercises of presidential power, so its legality requires reliance on a valid source of presidential authority, an act of Congress, or the Constitution.”

The rush to green refers to the April 12 Biden administration announcement that two-thirds of new vehicles will need to be all-electric by 2032. The House narrowly approved a vote on Dec. 6 to prevent the Biden administration from moving forward with a new EPA-proposed rule to further restrict greenhouse gas emissions from light- and medium-duty vehicles.

Following the Biden administration’s original announcement on the GHG phase 3 regulations, McMorris Rodgers and Johnson wrote a letter to the EPA on April 20 “demanding answers for why the administration is using Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funds to mandate that school districts buy electric buses instead of other more affordable, clean, and efficient alternatives.”


Related: Senators Call for Stronger EPA Regulation for Heavy Duty Vehicles
Related: Report Finds Challenges to California Vehicle Electrification Plans
Related: $500M EPA Clean School Bus Rebate Targets School Districts That Haven’t Applied


Then, last Tuesday, McMorris Rodgers issued a statement after the EPA announced an additional $1 billion in grants for the Clean School Bus Program. “The Biden administration is giving away another billion dollars of taxpayer money to force school districts to adopt its impractical rush-to-green agenda,” Rodgers said. “This is unacceptable, especially considering legitimate concerns about the program raised by the EPA Inspector General at our hearing last year and in recent reports.”

McMorris Rodgers added that the federal government should not be in the “business of picking and winners and losers.” She cited challenges with electric school buses such as purchases cost two to three times more than other options, limited availability of charging infrastructure, and concerns about unreliable operations in extreme weather.

The letter followed the release of two reports in December from EPA Office of Inspector General, which cited inefficiencies with the CSBP as well as utility delays.


Related: EPA Investigator General Cites Clean School Bus Program Inefficiencies, Utility Delays
Related: EPA Funds 2,675 More Electric School Buses Across 36 States


Meanwhile, Friday’s letter to Regan states “deep concerns” with the “far-reaching effects of this memorandum and question the EPA’s authority to pursue such actions.”

On Sept. 28, the EPA released a memorandum on the EPA’s Climate Enforcement and Compliance strategy. It directs all of the EPA’s enforcement and compliance offices to prioritize and address the mitigation of climate change in every matter within their jurisdiction.

 

It continues by stating that the memorandum establishes three new requirements for EPA’s enforcement and compliance programs:

 

– Prioritize enforcement and compliance activities to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

– Incorporate climate adaptation and resilience principles into all enforcement and compliance activities.

– Provide technical assistance to achieve climate-related solutions and build climate change capacity among EPA staff and state and local partners.

“The EPA’s repeated use of settlement authority to drive a consistent policy end, one which Congress has not enshrined in statute and may not be directly related to the violation necessitating enforcement, is an unconstitutional usurping of Article I authority,” the letter states. “Executive orders are exercises of presidential power, so its legality requires reliance on a valid source of presidential authority, an act of Congress, or the Constitution. EO 14008 cannot grant the EPA any additional authority, including enforcement authority, beyond the existing statutory authority granted to the President or the Agency from laws passed by Congress.”

McMorris Rodgers and Johnson asked Regan to respond by Jan. 29 to 10 questions regarding statutory authorities EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance is using, the federal statutory environmental violations EPA is de-prioritizing, and EPA’s apparent use of supplemental environmental projects for climate mitigation rather than simply as part of settlement agreements.

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