Legislation to block EPA regulations make significant gains in Congress

Republicans in the House and Senate made major gains Tuesday in efforts to block Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation authored by Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the full committee, and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, chair of the Energy and Power Subcommittee. The bill passed on a 34-19 vote, with three Democrats – Reps. Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jim Matheson of Utah, and John Barrow of Georgia – voting yes

All Republicans voted yes. In doing so, however, members voted against amendments that sought to establish climate change as real, man-made, and a threat to public health.

One of the amendments, offered by Ranking Member Rep. Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California, specifically called on Congress to affirm climate change is occurring. The amendment said, “Congress accepts the scientific finding of the [EPA] that ‘warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

The amendment failed on a 31-20 vote. All Republicans voted against it.

Another amendment was offered by Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado that called on Congress to accept that climate change is man-made. The Congresswoman called on colleagues to “reject any kind of fuzzy science.” Again, no Republicans voted for the amendment.

The third amendment, saying climate change is a threat to public health, was offered by Democratic  Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington. It met he same result.

Energy and Commerce lawmakers did approve one amendment, offered by Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah that establishes “scientific concern over the warming of the climate system.” The amendment, which basically says Congress as a whole is concerned about the threat of global warming, passed on a voice vote.

But Waxman viewed it as a weak concession from Republicans. “Alright, at least we have that,” said Waxman. “If that’s the best you can do, I find it somewhat lame. But better lame than nothing.”

The Democratic attempts to make the Republicans go on the record denying climate change is in direct opposition to how the GOP is trying to frame the debate over the EPA regulations. As far as Republican lawmakers are concerned, the move to block the EPA is about stopping job-killing regulation, not denying global warming.