Senate vote stymies attempt to kill EPA's climate action powers

By Martin Leggett - 07 Apr 2011 18:22:0 GMT
Senate vote stymies attempt to kill EPA's climate action powers

After weeks of delay, the Senate finally struck down the attempt by Sen. McConnell, to rob the EPA of its powers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions - via his Energy Tax Prevention Act. Congress originally voted for the Act back in March, by 34 to 19, in the Republican-controlled House. But in a blow against the climate-skeptical tendency, the necessary 60 seat Senate majority was missed by 10 votes, and so the measure will fail to hit the law books.

Under the Clean Air Act, last amended in 1990, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was given the role of safeguarding the US public from the effects of industrial pollution. Given the major disruption stemming from threatened - and actual - 'climate chaos', due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA's attempts to regulate those emitting them made eminent sense.

Not to Sen, McConnell and his cohort of like-minded Representatives, who sought to remove any chance of the EPA reducing climate-endangering CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The March debate in Congress was dominated by climate-denial myths and 'jobs protection' chants, that ignored the employment opportunities of switch to a 'Clean Energy' economy.

Although the Senate vote was an even-even split, at 50-50, it represented a decisive victory for continued US action in tackling the issue of climate change. The EPA has responsibility for controlling, and reducing, the pollution coming from power plants and heavy industry. These account for 40% of all US greenhouse gas emissions, and the EPA's plans to cut these can now go ahead.

The White House was pleased, with spokesman Jay Carney saying the Senate had ''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.''

One Republican voted against the EPA attack - Susan Collins of Maine. But in a telling sign, in addition to the Republican votes in favor of McConnell, the 4 Democrat Senators who voted for it were those from either traditionally conservative states - or from those states with an entrenched fossil fuel interest. That tends to reinforce the impression of an 'old industry' fightback, rather than a noble attempt to safeguard American jobs.