9/27/2005

Green rules seen on "chopping block" post-Rita - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Republicans on Wednesday will launch a rapid-fire assault against environmental protections on the pretext of helping the U.S. oil and gas industry recover from hurricane damage, environmental groups charge.
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The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Resources Committee are holding separate meetings to finalize legislation on Wednesday, with the aim of combining them into a single energy bill for the full House to debate next week.

The resources panel, led by Richard Pombo of California, wants to lift a ban on Florida offshore drilling, promote oil shale and sell a dozen national parks for energy development.

"This really has very little to do with the hurricanes or relief efforts or even refiners. This is deregulation pure and simple," said John Walke of Natural Resources Defense Council.

Texan Joe Barton's energy committee wants to expand U.S. gasoline production by loosening federal rules that limit pollution when refineries or coal-fired power plants are expanded. U.S. gasoline supplies have tightened since hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared across the U.S. Gulf Coast, closing up to one-fourth of the nation's refining capacity.

House Republicans received a thumbs up from
President George W. Bush on Monday when he said environmental rules and paperwork are obstacles holding up U.S. refinery expansions.

Bush specifically criticized the relatively obscure "new source review" rule administered by the
Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Clean Air Act. It aims to protect public health by ensuring that refinery expansions do not increase acid rain and smog.

Green rules seen on "chopping block" post-Rita - Yahoo! News

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