The Obama administration lashed back Wednesday at GOP efforts to curb federal air pollution regulations, arguing that clear skies laws save lives and help the nation's struggling economy.

According to The Press-Enterprise website, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson vowed to press forward with new regulations being sought in accordance with the Clean Air Act. Her remarks came during testimony defending the proposed EPA budget, which contains $46 million for efforts to enact new regulations restricting greenhouse gas emissions.

"We will continue to take meaningful, common-sense steps to address climate change and improve air quality," Jackson told a Senate panel.

The hearing was scheduled to discuss the White House budget for the EPA but soon devolved into a debate over federal air pollution regulations, jobs and whether humans are responsible for global warming.

Jackson wants to use the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emission from cars, trucks, factories and other sources. Congressional Republicans say she is overstepping her authority, and they want to amend the act to keep the administration from regulating carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to climate change.

The Clean Air Act is credited for huge reductions in Inland air pollution over the past 40 years, but Republicans and business groups say that EPA regulations are thwarting the creation of jobs.

Republicans propose deep cuts in the EPA's budget. A GOP-championed spending bill passed in the House last month would slash it by $3 billion, a roughly 30 percent reduction that would wipe out the EPA's push to regulate greenhouse gases.

"This bill puts Congress in charge of deciding our nation's climate change policy, not EPA bureaucrats," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., one of the bill's authors and a leading global warming skeptic in Congress.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, denounced the Republican measures and defended the proposed regulations.