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Bid to block EPA GHG regulations fails in Senate

10 Jun 2010 21:50 (+01:00 GMT)
Bid to block EPA GHG regulations fails in Senate

Washington, 10 June (Argus) — An effort to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act was rejected by the Senate today after failing to clear a procedural vote.

The resolution by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to overturn EPA's endangerment finding for GHGs fell by a 53-47 vote after about six hours of debate. The 53 no votes were cast by Democrats as all 41 Republicans, including several who are seen as possible supporters of climate legislation, were joined by six Democrats in voting for the resolution.

Supporters of the resolution sought to cast EPA's actions as an unwarranted expansion of the federal bureaucracy that lacked congressional consent and would wreak havoc on the US economy.

“I don't want EPA turning out the lights on America,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), one of the few Democrats to back the resolution. “Congress must decide” on climate policy, he said.

Rockefeller has introduced his own measure to suspend EPA stationary source regulations for two years, and it may have been that bill's existence that helped Democrats beat back the Murkowski resolution. Many of Rockefeller's co-sponsors voted against the resolution. Sen. James Webb (D-Virginia), a critic of EPA's actions, said he was concerned that the Murkowski's sweeping resolution would undermine the recently enacted GHG rules for new cars trucks, which were the result of an agreement between the industry, the administration and environmentalists. The narrower Rockefeller bill would preserve those regulations, Webb said.

“I believe that's a very effective approach,” he said.

Throughout the debate, opponents hammered the resolution for being an unprecedented attack on climate science and on the experts at EPA. The resolution would have overturned EPA's endangerment finding, which serves as the legal basis for the agency's GHG regulations for new cars and large stationary sources.

After the vote, the authors of draft climate legislation called on resolution supporters to make good on their calls for Congress to act instead of EPA.

“We hope they will now engage with us to pass our pro-business, pro-jobs approach so the EPA doesn't have to do the job that the Senate has failed to do,” Sens. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) and Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) said in a joint statement.

While the vote puts an end to efforts to overturn the endangerment finding, opponents of EPA action in both the House and Senate said they would continue to push for legislation that temporarily blocks the agency from acting on stationary sources.

“It is now clear that the votes do not exist in the Senate or the House to remove all EPA regulatory authority. Our bill is a responsible, achievable approach which prevents the EPA from enacting regulations that would harm coal and gives Congress time to establish a balanced program,” Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) said. Boucher and Rep. Rick Rahall (D-West Virginia) are cosponsors of the House version of Rockefeller's legislation.

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