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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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Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky, who sponsored a measure to permanently revoke EPA authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, won 50 votes – more than the three other measures combined. His proposal drew support from four Democrats: Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. A lone Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against the McConnell plan.

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Not a single Republican voted for the other three Democratic-sponsored bills, milder measures that would have only delayed or altered EPA action on greenhouse emissions. Still, Senator McConnell in a statement said that "an overwhelming bipartisan majority" had voted "to rein in job- and economy-destroying EPA regulations.

"We in the Senate will continue to fight for legislation that will give the certainty that no unelected bureaucrat at the EPA is going to make efforts to create jobs even more difficult than the administration already has," he said.

That characterization of defeat as partial victory was echoed by industry groups that had closely watched the vote.

"While the Senate was unable to pass Senator McConnell’s amendment to the Small Business Bill today, the vote demonstrates that Senators on both sides of the aisle understand the negative impact the Environmental Protection Agency’s new greenhouse gas regulations will have on manufacturing," said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufactures, an industry trade group, in a statement.

Others, however, said the Senate's defeat of four measures to strip EPA authority was a big win for the environment.

“The Senate today turned back a wave of assaults on clear air and health, but as the continued overreach in the House shows, this fight is far from over," Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington environmental group, said in a statement. "We expect Senate leadership and President Obama to continue standing firm in opposing these misguided efforts to dismantle the EPA’s ability to limit carbon dioxide pollution.”

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