WASHINGTON —Sen. David Vitter, R-La., on Monday led a letter-writing effort to keep the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the 43-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, called NEPA.

Vitter, the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, and 32 other Republican senators, wrote to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Chairwoman Nancy Sutley asked the administration to withdraw potential draft plans to expand the scope of NEPA.

They are focusing on a 2010 memo that discussed future “guidance” on using NEPA to analyze proposed regulations with the consideration of the “effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Vitter and other Republicans are concerned about that effort moving forward soon and creating what they consider unfair and burdensome regulations on American businesses.

“Moving forward with this guidance flies in the face of the president’s publicly stated goal to ‘streamline the permitting process,’” Vitter said in his announcement. “This regulation would add a cumbersome and obtuse GHG (greenhouse gas) requirement to the permitting process for projects that would not face similar scrutiny in nations with which the United States competes for investment, such as China, India or Russia.”

Vitter previously filed legislation to prohibit the regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. unless China, India and Russia implement similar reductions.

In 2010, the Council on Environmental Quality proposed steps to “modernize and reinvigorate” NEPA on its 40th anniversary.

Vitter and the Republican senators are concerned the effort would “dramatically expand the scope of NEPA” beyond its intended purpose.

The contention is the White House wants to force federal agencies to consider greenhouse gas emissions under NEPA before approving projects.