GHG Regulations Survive Senate Vote

by | Apr 7, 2011

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The Senate yesterday rejected efforts to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

A measure sponsored by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell received 50 votes, falling short of the 60 it needed to pass, Reuters reported.

The Senate rejected three other amendments designed to limit the EPA’s powers, all sponsored by Democrats. One, introduced by Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), would have delayed the agency from regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) for two years.

The White House hailed the votes’ outcome. “[The Senate] rejected an approach that would have increased the nation’s dependence on oil, contradicted the scientific consensus on global warming, and jeopardized America’s ability to lead the world in the clean energy economy,” spokesman Jay Carney said.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is likely to pass its own bill preventing EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, possibly as early as today. But such passage would largely be symbolic after the defeat of the Senate measure, Reuters said.

The EPA declared GHGs a threat to human health in late 2009, and has since ordered states to begin issuing GHG permits to big emitters such as oil refineries, coal-burning power plants, cement factories and glass makers. Those rules took effect January 2, although the EPA decided to defer application of the GHG rules to biomass facilities for three years, and states have struggled with the federal government over the permitting process..

The EPA plans to propose GHG emissions limits this year, and finalize the rules next year, Reuters said. In the meantime, large emitters and fuel suppliers must report their 2010 GHG data to the EPA by September 30, 2011.

President Obama and Republican leaders said yesterday that they have not yet managed to come to a compromise on the federal budget for the remainder of 2011, leaving the door open to a government shut-down starting this weekend, the New York Times said.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) insisted that limits to GHG regulations are off the table in the short-term budget negotiations, ClimateWire reported in the Times. But House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) disagreed.

“I have a lot of difficulty in accepting that myself or, I think, getting the acceptance of our members,” Cantor said. “It is something that I think most members go home and hear about every week.”

President Obama said, “”What we can’t be doing is using last year’s budget process to have arguments about abortion; to have arguments about the Environmental Protection Agency; to try to use this budget negotiation as a vehicle for every ideological or political difference between the two parties.

“That’s what the legislature is for, is to have those arguments, but not stuff it all into one budget bill,” Obama added.

Meanwhile, Republicans are calling for deep cuts to energy and environmental programs in their proposed budget for 2012, ClimateWire reported. A plan released Tuesday by House budget chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) attacks EPA climate rules, oil and gas drilling regulations and money for “politically favored renewable-energy interests.”

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