- - Tuesday, February 1, 2011

ENVIRONMENT

GOP to target EPA’s powers

In a sharp challenge to the Obama administration, House Republicans will unveil legislation Wednesday to ban the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and expect to advance the bill quickly, aides said.

The bill would nullify all of the steps the EPA has taken to date on the issue, including a crucial finding that greenhouse gases constitute a danger to the public health and welfare and must be curbed.

In addition, it seeks to strip the agency of its authority to use the law in any future attempts to crack down on the emissions from factories, utilities and other stationary sources.

Many scientists say that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution contribute to global warming, and attempts at regulating them have been a major priority for President Obama, as well as for environmentalists. Critics argue the evidence is thin and that new rules will drive up the cost of business and cause the loss of jobs.

The officials who described the GOP plans did so on the condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to pre-empt the release of a draft measure prepared by the Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican.

SENATE

Democrats reject call to cut Israel aid

Six Senate Democrats are rejecting a deficit-driven proposal by freshman Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky to cut U.S. aid to Israel.

In a letter Tuesday to the top House Republicans on the Appropriations and Budget committees, the Democrats said aid to Israel, the only democratic nation in the Middle East, is imperative. They backed the $3 billion in foreign military assistance that the U.S. provides annually to Israel.

Mr. Paul said last week that the nation faces a fiscal crisis and argued that the U.S. can’t give money away, even to allies, as the debt grows.

Signing the letter were Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Bill Nelson of Florida, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

SENATE

Counsel named in Ensign case

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