US House pushes back with 'empty gesture' EPA attack

By Martin Leggett - 08 Apr 2011 16:3:0 GMT
US House pushes back with 'empty gesture' EPA attack

In a swift counter-punch to the Senate vote Wednesday - one that ruled in favor of keeping EPA powers to police GHG emissions - the House yesterday passed a bill to cut those very same powers. They also voted to annul the Supreme Court ruling that pressed the role upon the EPA in 2007. So the legislative sparring continues, but it is unlikely that Upton bill will make it into law - both the Presidential veto and the Senate stand in the way of that.

The bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Fred Upton, was voted for by all Republicans - and by 19 Democrats. It has been framed by its supporters as an attempt to roll back bureaucracy, and safeguard American jobs. But it has wallowed at times in climate change-denial sentiment - and the hand of the fossil-fuel lobby has been seen in some voting patterns.

The bill is a word-for-word copy of the measure just struck down in the Senate, and was voted for by a large margin - 255 to 172. It seeks to deny the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) any role in regulating greenhouse gases (GHG), pollutants that are widely acknowledged to be pushing the planet towards uncontrolled climate change.

Those powers were first mandated by a Supreme Court ruling, from an action bought by 12 US states - on the basis that climate change was threatening them, and so the EPA should step in to control GHG emissions. Since President Obama's cap-and-trade bill, to effect reductions in those emissions, was thrown out, the EPA powers under the Clean Air Act remain as one of the few effective federal tools to control greenhouse gases.

It is for that reason that the Upton bill supporters were put on notice, that a Presidential veto was in the offing if the matter got past the Senate - which now looks unlikely. However, with a Republican-controlled House threatening a potential governmental snarl for President Obama's administration, it is likely that the noise and fury around this issue will echo around Capitol Hill a little longer.