This Week in the Congress

by Myron Ebell on March 26, 2011

in Blog

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Senate Looks Ready to Vote on EPA Pre-Emption Amendment

The Senate now appears headed for a floor vote next week on S. 482, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced on 15th March as an amendment to the Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer Programs Re-Authorization Act, S. 493.  S. 482, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, was introduced by Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) and is identical to H. R. 910, which the House plans to vote on as a free-standing bill next month.  McConnell’s amendment would block EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions until authorized by Congress.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) postponed a vote on the amendment last week when it became clear that it might come close to the 60 votes required for passage.  First, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced his bill to delay EPA regulations for two years as an amendment.  When that seemed to gain little support, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced an amendment that would codify EPA regulations into law but permanently exempt from regulation smaller stationary sources that emit less than 75,000 tons per year.

The idea behind the Baucus amendment is that it peels off opposition from small businesses, farmers, and ranchers.  The American Farm Bureau Federation sent a strong letter to the Senate supporting Inhofe’s bill and McConnell’s amendment and opposing Baucus’s amendment.  The Farm Bureau points out that farmers and ranchers will still have to pay more for energy and fertilizer even if they are not directly regulated.

It looks like Reid is now thinking about having votes on all three amendments.  McConnell appears to have more than 50 votes for his amendment, but not the 60 required for passage, since the amendment is not germane to the bill and is thus subject to a point of order.  On the other hand, Reid may succeed in getting nearly all the Democrats to vote for the Baucus amendment.  So it could end up with close to 50 votes as well.

House Vote on EPA Pre-Emption Bill Put Off until Early April

The House of Representatives has tentatively scheduled floor debate on H. R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, for the week of 4th April.  Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) bill would block EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions until authorized by Congress to do so.  I think that the schedule could easily slip so that the bill doesn’t come to the floor until the week of 11th April, but the House’s Republican majority leadership still seems committed to getting final passage before leaving for the Holy Week and Easter recess, which begins on the 18th.

Environmental pressure groups are running radio and television ads in some districts, most notably in Chairman Upton’s district.  I discuss the American Lung Association’s shameless billboards in a post on here.

Two former EPA Administrators in Republican administrations, William D. Ruckelshaus and Christie Todd Whitman, published an embarrassingly inane and self-serving op-ed in the Washington Post today, headlined “Undoing 40 years of green gains?”  Ruckelshaus and Whitman write, “Today the agency Richard Nixon created … is under siege.”  They have that backwards.  Americans are under siege by EPA.

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