House votes to strip EPA of power to curb carbon emissions
The House voted Thursday to bar the EPA from regulating carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. The Senate on Wednesday rejected a similar proposal. Still, the fight is far from over.
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Environmentalists worry that the Obama administration, which is eager to avert a government shutdown, might compromise on one or more of the riders to the spending bill and permit EPA authority to be weakened. Among those riders are measures to block EPA from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions and to repeal the agency's finding that such gases pose a global warming threat to human health and welfare.Skip to next paragraph
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Those riders, as much as money differences, appear to be at the center of the budget impasse. (Many riders are about non-EPA issues, such as NPR funding and Planned Parenthood.) Speaker Boehner Thursday morning said the government funding fight isn't just about money, but also about "common-sense policy restrictions on how taxpayer dollars are spent."
"I can see us sitting down at the negotiating table and coming away with an agreement on numbers," Senator Reid said about the negotiations, in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday. "But no one can realistically think that we will walk out of a room and suddenly agree to roll back women's access to health care or protections for the environment."
Those spending bill policy restrictions include riders that would:
• Prohibit EPA use of funds to implement or enforce any statutory or regulatory requirement pertaining to emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.
• Prohibit the EPA from using its funds to develop or enforce any regulation to define coal ash and other residue of power plant combustion as hazardous waste.
So far, though, the president has not yielded, saying he won't accept riders that hurt the environment – and lauding the Senate for rejecting the four measures to diminish EPA authority.
"The administration is encouraged by the Senate's actions [Wednesday] to defend the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to protect public health under the Clean Air Act," the president said in a statement. "By rejecting efforts to roll back EPA's common-sense steps to safeguard Americans from harmful pollution, the Senate also 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."
Others had a different interpretation of the Senate votes, noting the four measures, though defeated, attracted some Democratic support. That fact, they say, could have significance in the future.