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New GOP Bill Would Bar Enviro Reviews from Considering Climate

7:17 AM PDT on April 21, 2010

Republicans on the Senate environment committee, who months ago began criticizing
the Obama administration for evaluating federally funded infrastructure
projects for their impact on climate change, today introduced
legislation that would bar the White House from making climate a factor
in environmental reviews.

john_barrasso_john_thune_2009_9_30_16_10_56.jpgSen. John Barrasso (R-WY), one of the new NEPA bill's sponsors, holds up a copy of the Senate climate legislation. (Photo: AP)

The GOP senators said their bill
was aimed at ensuring the government could not delay new road and
power-plant construction to gauge its climate impacts under the
precepts of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). That
40-year-old statute that requires local planners to conduct reviews of
any transport project that could significantly impact the health of
surrounding areas.

"As it stands, NEPA is
subject to frequent abuse by radical environmentalists who want to use
litigation to impose their agenda on federal agencies," Sen. David
Vitter (R-LA), one of the measure's sponsors, said in a statement. "Our
bill seeks
to prevent that abuse."

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), responding to a petition from green groups, issued draft guidance
in February that asked agencies to evaluate the climate impacts of new
projects estimated to increase emissions by 25,000 metric tons or more
of CO2 -- the same level that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
used for its rule on mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas production.

As the EPA noted in its explanation of the 25,000 metric ton threshold,
such a level of emissions would be equivalent to 4,600 new passenger
cars or the energy use of 2,3000 new homes.

The CEQ's guidance is not set to become final until after a period of public comment ends next month.

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