NSAC's Blog

Senate and House Action on Legislation to Limit EPA Regulation of GHGs

April 8, 2011

On Wednesday, April 8, the Senate rejected four legislative riders that would have limited EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.  The riders were offered for attachment to a small business bill.

The amendment offered by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and James Inhofe (R-OK) came closest to passing by a vote of 50-50 but did not receive the 60 votes required for passage of an amendment to the bill.  The amendment would have prohibited EPA from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas (GHG) to address climate change.  Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ben Nelson (D-AR) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) were the only Democrats who voted for the amendment. Senator Collins (R-ME) was the only Republican to vote against the amendment.

Three other, less restrictive amendments offered by Democratic Senators were roundly defeated:

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) offered an amendment that would have suspended for 2 years any EPA enforcement of GHG emission regulations, exempted U.S. agriculture from GHG regulations, blocked California from enacting stricter GHG emission regulations, and increased the number of companies eligible to participate in the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit Program.  This measure was defeated by a vote of 7-93.

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) offered an amendment that would exempt agriculture and small businesses from GHG emission regulations.  The amendment was defeated by a vote of 7-93, with the aye votes from Senators Baucus, Mark Begich (D-AL), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Carl Levin (D-MI).

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) offered an amendment that would impose a two-year timeout on climate rules for stationary sources.  His measure failed by 12-88 vote, with the 12 yes votes coming from Democratic Senators.

Taken together, a total of 64 Senators voted for at least one of the amendments to restrict EPA’s regulation of GHG emissions but no single amendment garnered the needed 60 votes.

Looking at the voting results, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who co-sponsored the McConnell amendment, concluded that a bill restricting EPA from regulating GHG emissions could pass if introduced as a stand-alone bill.

The next day on the other side of the Hill, the House enacted that stand-alone bill by a vote of 255-172.  H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, is a House companion bill to the McConnell-Inhofe measure.  It would strip EPA of Clean Air Act regulatory authority over emissions of substances being regulated because of their impact on climate change. During debate, twelve amendments to the bill were rejected, including an amendment offered by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)  that would have limited the EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions from farms, small businesses, and small- and medium-sized stationary sources but retained the authority for other sources subject to Clean Air Act regulation.

On Wednesday, the Obama Administration issued a Statement of Administrative Policy on H.R. 910, in which the President stated that he would veto H.R. 910.  The Statement noted the societal benefits that Clean Air Act regulation of GHGs could achieve.  These benefits from carbon pollution control included increased public health and reduction of oil consumption.  The Statement also emphasized that H.R. 910 would second guess the widely-accepted scientific consensus that carbon pollution is at increasingly dangerous concentrations and is contributing to the threat of climate change.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment

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