House panel to consider ‘modernizing’ Clean Air Act, environmental laws

Source: BY DEVIN HENRY, The Hill • Posted: Monday, February 13, 2017

A House committee next week will consider how to “modernize” environmental laws like the Clean Air Act, the panel announced Thursday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s environmental subpanel will meet on Feb. 16 to consider environmental laws and “challenges and opportunities for expanding infrastructure and promoting development and manufacturing,” the committee announced Thursday.

That means looking at the Clean Air Act, the Brownfields program for environmental cleanup and other laws, according to the announcement.

“In previous Congresses we’ve looked at ways that we can modernize and update certain laws to ensure more efficient, cost-effective environmental protections, while promoting innovation and more affordable goods and services,” Rep. John Shimkus(R-Ill.), the panel’s chairman, said in a statement.

“Next week’s hearing will provide our members an opportunity to consider practical reforms to promote the expansion of domestic infrastructure and manufacturing.”

The hearing comes as the GOP mulls changes to environmental regulations under President Trump.

Republicans and fossil fuel groups have criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its regulatory approach to clean air issues during the Obama administration, especially its landmark climate regulation, the Clean Power Plan.

That rule looks to limit carbon emissions from power plants, and it hinges on Clean Air Act interpretations that opponents say are invalid. The plan is likely to die under Trump and his EPA nominee, Scott Pruitt, who sued against it as Oklahoma’s attorney general.

But next Thursday’s hearing — combined with Pruitt’s nomination and this week’s Science Committee hearing on EPA rulemaking — could signal a broader GOP push to reform environmental laws.