The US House of Representatives [official website] on Friday voted 249-169 [roll call vote] to pass a bill [HR 2401 materials] that would effectively block a number of broad regulations aimed at reducing emissions. The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act 2011 [text, PDF] would require the formation of a committee, chaired by the Secretary of Commerce, to perform "analyses of the cumulative and incremental impacts of certain rules and actions" of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website]. In requiring the committee to analyze the impact on the economy of decisions made by the EPA, the Act would delay the implementation [Washington Post report] of many EPA regulations, including one which attempts to limit the discharge of certain toxins into the air and another which would limit the emissions of power plants in states that have been found to cause significant pollution in their neighboring states. To become law, the legislation still needs to pass in the Senate and receive approval from US President Barak Obama.
The possible effects to the economy of environmental regulations has made their passage and implementation difficult as of late. Earlier this month, Obama requested the withdrawal of national smog standards [JURIST report] proposed by the EPA. The draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards [materials] would have reduced the amount of smog emissions to between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm) from the previous 0.075 ppm. The EPA estimates that these changes would help reduce the effects of climate change and improve public health, saving the US between $13 billion and $100 billion in health care costs. The stricter smog standards, proposed by the EPA in January 2010 [JURIST report], would have replaced the Bush administration's broader 2008 national smog regulations [text], complying with scientific recommendations. In his statement, Obama recognized recent efforts to improve environmental protection, but emphasized the need to trim down regulations in light of the economic downturn.