Chamber of Commerce Considering EPA Lawsuit

Tom Donohue says Congress should handle greenhouse gas regulation, not EPA.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is considering a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency challenging EPA's plans to regulate greenhouse gases, according to chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue.

Asked at a news conference today whether the chamber would sue EPA to roll back its recent decision that greenhouse gases are pollutants that endanger public health and the environment, Donohue said, "Maybe." That ruling gives EPA the authority to regulate such gases directly. "This is a retirement program, among other things, for class-action lawyers," he said. Donohue added that a lawsuit is under review and the chamber will take "appropriate action." But he wouldn't elaborate except to say that Congress should handle regulation of greenhouse gases, not EPA.

Donohue criticized key parts of the Democratic agenda being proposed by President Obama and majority Democrats in Congress, arguing that they would raise costs for business and hurt the economy. "Congress, the administration, and the states must recognize that our weak economy simply could not sustain all the new taxes, regulations, and mandates now under consideration. It's a surefire recipe for a double-dip recession—or worse."

Donohue criticized healthcare legislation being considered in Congress as "a prescription for fiscal insolvency and an eventual government takeover of American healthcare." He also said a climate change bill passed by the House last year "would tie economic activity in knots and eliminate jobs from one end of the country to another."

The chamber also is accelerating its campaign to persuade leaders of government, business, and labor to unite around the goal of creating 20 million jobs over the next decade. "Our nation faces many big challenges, but no priority is more important than putting jobless Americans back to work," Donohue said in his annual "State of American Business" address, which preceded today's news conference. To that end, he outlined five areas where he said government and business should work together:

--Expanding U.S. exports around the world in a trade policy that "opens markets and eliminates the barriers that stand in the way of our workers, businesses, and farmers." He called for approval of pending trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

--Rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, such as roads, water systems, and energy facilities, using both private and public funds.

--Investing in "clean energy" technologies, including nuclear power, and making it easier to build such facilities by "removing regulatory impediments" and making the permitting process more efficient.

--Expanding credit for businesses, especially small companies, and, overall, leaving "productive capital" in the economy rather than having it "taken away through massive tax increases."

--Removing "economic uncertainties" in tax, environmental, labor, legal, and fiscal policies so business leaders can plan properly.

Donohue is scheduled to promote the chamber's jobs agenda in a series of events throughout 2010, including speeches this month in Louisiana, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia.