US Senate's EPA GHG bill beats House measure to floor

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 16 -- US Sen. James M. Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) bill to stop the US Environmental Protection Agency implementation of greenhouse gas emission controls under the Clean Air Act pulled ahead of its House counterpart in a race to the floor when the Senate’s chief minority member, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), introduced it as an amendment to small business legislation before the full Senate.

McConnell’s move came on Mar. 15 as the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up and passed Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) similar measure by 34 to 19 votes, and referred it to the House floor for action in the next few weeks. Inhofe, who is the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s ranking minority member, and Upton jointly circulated drafts of their bills in February and introduced their final versions on Mar. 3.

Noting that Inhofe’s stand-alone bill, S. 482, has 43 cosponsors including one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, McConnell said that EPA’s implementation effort, which the agency has said is a response to a 2007 US Supreme Court decision, is actually “a backdoor national energy tax” and “a strange way to respond to rising [gasoline] taxes.”

“They’re attempting to do through regulation what they couldn’t do through legislation—regardless of whether the American people want it or not,” the Senate’s top Republican declared. “This is an insult to the millions of Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet or find a job.” Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said that while he opposes McConnell’s amendment, he will allow a vote on it.

Prior to the House committee’s approval of HR 910, Upton’s bill, Democratic members proposed several amendments calling for congressional acceptance of EPA’s finding that GHGs endanger public health and the environment. All were defeated. The single amendment from that side of the aisle which became part of the bill came from Jim Matheson (D-Utah). The “sense of Congress” amendment said that there is “scientific concern over warming of the climate system.”

Matheson and two other Democrats on the committee, Mike Ross (Ark.) and John Barrow (Ga.), joined Republicans in sending Upton’s bill to the House floor.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.



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