Issue Date: April 11, 2011
Congress Splits On EPA CO2 Bill
Senators hoping to stop EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases failed to muster sufficient votes to do so last week. But the House of Representatives did exactly the opposite and passed a bill (H.R. 910) on a 255–172 vote to bar EPA from cutting CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act.
The Senate action centered on four amendments to an unrelated bill to help small businesses. Garnering the most support was an amendment by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
McConnell’s proposal and H.R. 910 would alter the Clean Air Act to prevent EPA from using that law to regulate emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Both measures also would nullify the agency’s scientific finding that greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere endangers public health (C&EN, March 14, page 9).
McConnell’s proposal attracted 50 votes, including four from Democrats, but failed because it needed 60 supporters to prevent a filibuster.By large margins, the Senate rejected other amendments to limit or delay EPA’s regulations, offered by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), and Debbie A. Stabenow (D-Mich.).
Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, an activist group, characterizes the legislative efforts as “an unprecedented assault on public health protections under the Clean Air Act.”
In contrast, Calvin M. Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, urges Congress to block EPA so “business growth and hiring can continue.”
The agency’s plan to regulate CO2 is in development. Under a schedule reached through a settlement in federal court, only the largest emitters will be covered in the next few years. By mid- to late 2012, refineries and electric utilities will begin implementing regulations that EPA will develop this year through discussions with industry. Those rules are most likely to call for greater energy efficiency (C&EN, Jan. 10, page 7).
A statement from the White House applauded the Senate action and backed what it called “EPA’s common-sense steps to safeguard Americans from harmful pollution.” If the Senate passes a bill similar to H.R. 910, President Barack Obama is likely to veto it, the White House says.
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