- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Top members of President Barack Obama’s energy and environmental team are weighing in on a bill that would curb the emissions blamed for global warming and transform how the nation produces and uses energy.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, were to spend part of their Earth Day before a House energy panel Wednesday. Their appearance comes less than a week after the Obama administration took steps to regulate greenhouse gases without the help of Congress.

On Friday, the EPA declared that six greenhouse gases pose dangers to human health and the environment. The ruling clears the way for controlling so-called greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

But it also was seen as a way for the Obama administration to exert pressure on Congress to take action this year.

Administration officials have said they prefer a new law to using old ones to address global warming, and would like Congress to act now.

In a preview of what is likely to come, several Republicans and moderate Democrats on the first day of hearings Tuesday said they didn’t want the legislation to be rushed.

Wednesday’s hearing was the second of four days of hearings scheduled this week by the House Commerce energy and environment subcommittee to prepare the bill for committee votes by the end of May.

“We can acquiesce to that regulation that will have certain and disastrous impacts on our economy or we can legislate an even more harmful system,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who has a bill pending that would block the EPA from moving forward with regulation to buy more time for Congress to draft a bill.

“It is as though when faced with a gun to our head, Congress is going to take it and shoot ourselves in the chest,” Blackburn said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has vowed to get a climate bill approved this year.

Yet key parts of the bill have yet to be written, including how a permit system for greenhouse gases will be structured. Many lawmakers want this hole in particular plugged before proceeding to a final bill since it will determine how much the legislation would cost.

They also want a chance to protect their interests, especially those from parts of the country that depend on the industries and energy sources that will be most affected.

“If Congress does not act, greenhouse gases could be regulated administratively without input of members that have different constituencies nationwide,” said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas.

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On the Net:

House Energy and Commerce Committee: https://energycommerce.house.gov/

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