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Senate Nixes EPA-Gutting Amendments


Last night, the U.S. Senate nixed several amendments that would have gutted the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to enforce the Clean Air Act. The egregious amendments were by Max Baucus (“To prohibit the regulation of greenhouse gases from certain sources”), Debbie Stabenow (“To suspend, for 2 years, any Environmental Protection Agency enforcement of greenhouse gas regulations, to exempt American agriculture from greenhouse gas regulations…”), John D. Rockefeller (“To suspend, until the end of the 2-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, any Environmental Protection Agency action under the Clean Air Act with respect to carbon dioxide or methane pursuant to certain proceedings, other than with respect to motor vehicle emissions.”), and Mitch McConnell (“To prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change.”).

Clearly, these were all bad amendments that should have been defeated. Some, such as Mitch McConnell’s, were particularly bad. In the end, thankfully, they were all rejected by the U.S. Senate, although McConnell’s actually managed to get 50 votes, which is utterly pathetic. The other amendments got 12 votes (Rockefeller), 7 votes (Stabenow), and 7 votes (Baucus). As far as I’m concerned, none of these amendments should have received any votes at all.

How did Virginia’s U.S. Senators vote, for or against protecting the environment? Mark Warner was perfect, voting “nay” on all of these horrible amendments (thank you Senator!). Jim Webb was actually better than I’d expected, voting “nay” on three of the amendments and “aye” on only one (Rockefeller, which he cosponsored). Webb also issued a statement, which I’ve posted on the “flip” of this diary. Needless to say, I don’t agree with Webb that any suspension of the EPA’s ability to regulate dangerous greenhouse gases is either warranted or wise. As for giving “Congress time to address ‘legitimate concerns over the broad use of executive powers in the absence of clear Congressional intent,'” that’s just completely absurd. The fact is, Congress has been punting/whiffing on the issues of clean energy and climate change for about 20 years now. In the last Congress, the House of Representatives actually moved the ball further down the field than ever before, but the Senate proceeded to completely fumble it. After that pathetic display, why would anyone think that giving the Senate yet another two years would help matters in any way? Frankly, that’s laughable.

Senator Webb Votes to Delay EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases on Stationary Sources

Washington, DC: Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today voted for Senator Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) amendment to suspend the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources for a period of two years. Senator Webb, a co-sponsor of the amendment and a similar bill, said the delay would give Congress time to address “legitimate concerns over the broad use of executive powers in the absence of clear Congressional intent” without disrupting decisions already reached on motor vehicle fuel and emission standards. The amendment, however, failed to win passage.

“I have long expressed deep reservations about the consequences of unilateral regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA,” said Senator Webb. “This sweeping authority at the hands of the EPA could endanger thousands of jobs in our fragile economy. Senator Rockefeller’s amendment, which I cosponsored, would give Congress time to address legitimate concerns with climate change and to enact responsible energy legislation.

“In contrast, Senator McConnell’s amendment would jeopardize significant progress already made on motor vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards, which could save as much as 1.8 billion barrels of oil and millions of dollars for consumers.”

Senator Rockefeller’s amendment to S. 493, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs Reauthorization Act of 2011, called for a two-year moratorium on EPA regulatory action under the Clean Air Act with respect to carbon dioxide or methane, except for the widely-supported motor vehicle emission standards.

Senator Webb has consistently called for a comprehensive approach to addressing our nation’s energy needs. In 2009, he introduced the bipartisan “Clean Energy Act” with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to promote further investment and development of the nation’s clean energy technologies.  Earlier this week, Senator Webb again urged the Obama Administration to keep Virginia’s Lease Sale 220 on schedule to allow for exploration of much of Virginia’s offshore resources.


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