Offshore Regulations Hit Climate Fight Snag

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"offshore drilling regulation sidetracked by climate-change policy."

The Obama administration's push to beef up regulation of offshore drilling in the aftermath of the Gulf spill could get sidetracked by a battle over the White House's climate-change policy.

The Senate Appropriations Committee had planned to vote Tuesday on a proposal to fund offshore drilling regulation and the operations of the EPA. But that was canceled after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said the committee needed more time to evaluate a White House request that funding for regulation of offshore O&G operations be increased to ~$250M rather than the original $184M.

Republicans, however, said Democrats may have balked due to the possibility that Sen. Lisa. Murkowski (R., Alaska) would offer an amendment to prohibit the EPA from spending any money to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants, factories and other major emitters.

Some Democrats have also called for a timeout on EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, citing concerns that such regulations would stifle the economy and threaten jobs. The EPA's plans to curb greenhouse gases are a contentious campaign issue in some swing Congressional districts in heartland states. A Senate vote to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases would be an embarrassment for the administration. Tuesday, EPA Chief Lisa Jackson accused unspecified corporate lobbyists of making "doomsday predictions" that exaggerated the impact of new emissions regulations on the U.S. economy.

Michael Bromwich, the head of the agency that regulates offshore drilling, pleaded his case Tuesday. "If we don't get the additional resources, we won't be able to do the job effectively," he said, adding: "I think it's that simple."

Bromwich's agency, formerly known as the Minerals Management Service, has come under criticism from lawmakers in the aftermath of the BP oil spill that it had been too deferential to the industry it was supposed to oversee.

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