February 15 News: Senate GOP Targets The EPA

A series of new bills introduced by the GOP this week in the Senate seek would limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory reach, and would subject the agency to penalties for missing reporting deadlines. [The Hill]

Offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), the legislation reflects the latest in a series of Republican attempts to rein in an EPA that GOP lawmakers say has run amok and must be held accountable….

Republican anger has mostly been directed at the agency’s use of regulations and official memoranda to further the administration’s environmental agenda without congressional approval. Lawmakers also complained loudly after EPA’s regulatory agenda was released long after its statutory deadline.

Johanns introduced four separate bills. The first targets EPA’s use of guidance documents, rather than formal rules, to enforce actions. Such guidance is not subject to congressional oversight, but Johanns’s bill would remedy that by bringing them under the scope of the Congressional Review Act, he said.The second would require the EPA’s Inspector General to report to Congress twice a year on the agency’s progress toward meeting deadlines that, Johanns said, are now being skirted. The third measure would reduce EPA’s budget by $20,000 every week until the agency meets its agenda setting deadlines.The last bill would force EPA to provide timely information and technical assistance to states working to comply with federal mandates.

Thinning Arctic sea ice appears to be accelerating the growth of algae in polar waters, a new study finds, a development that could alter the region’s ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. [Climate Central]

Climate change poses a serious financial threat to the federal government, according to the Government Accountability Office. The government owns extensive infrastructure, insures property, and provides emergency aid after natural disasters. [WaPo]

February 2012 to January 2013 was the warmest February-to-January period since record-keeping began in 1880, NOAA said in its monthly State of the Climate report. [Climate Central]

Gina McCarthy, a veteran clean-air expert, and a 58-year-old Boston native who once worked for Gov. Mitt Romney, has emerged as the top contender to take over the EPA, according to people familiar with the matter. [WSJ]

While storms swept across the Southeast over the past week and made a significant dent in drought conditions, the drought also expanded into southern Florida and continues to persist across the rest of the county. [Climate Central]

Today, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research will present work to members of the United Nations Security Council in New York to show the connection between climate change and global security challenges. [Bloomberg]

Canada’s national police force and intelligence service view environmental activist activities such as blocking access to roads or buildings as “forms of attack,” and depict those involved as national security threats, according to the documents released under freedom of information laws. [The Guardian]

A worldwide expansion of relatively cheap shale oil could put investment in renewable energy and global emissions targets under threat, according to a new report by consultancy firm PwC. [The Guardian]