Robert Verchick: Will the White House stall its own climate change plans?

Erin Kesler

July 30, 2013

Last week, The Hill published an opinion piece by Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar Robert Verchick.

The piece entitled, "Politics and progress: Will the White House stall its own climate change plans?" can be read here.

According to Verchick:

Under its statutory authority, EPA has ample power to write rules limiting power plant emissions, for example. But since the Reagan administration, all “major” rules—those seen as important to national policy—have been funneled into a little-known process of review, conducted by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). It may be the most important government office you've never heard of —the depot through which all regulatory freight must pass, the ganglia of the president’s rulemaking.

By executive order, OIRA is required to review submitted agency proposals within 90 days. For the most part, past administrations have kept up the pace. But in the Obama administration, the trains no longer run on time. Of the 136 draft rules under review at OIRA, 72 have been held up for longer than the 90-day limit. Of those, 38 have been stalled for over a year. Nine rules from the Department of Energy have been at OIRA for over two years and deal directly with energy efficiency standards the President himself touted in his 2013 State of the Union address. In his climate address, for example, the President instructed EPA to issue stricter limits on power plant emissions, saying he wanted them by this September. He should have directed that to OIRA, not the EPA, because the EPA had already proposed a package of stricter standards for new coal-fired power plants and submitted it to OIRA in March 2012.

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