U.S. House of Representative lawmakers sent a loud message to the White House on Thursday: They want to obliterate the Obama administration’s climate rules. The chamber voted 255-172, primarily along party lines, to nullify the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations and the scientific finding they’re based on. No Republicans opposed the bill, but 19 Democrats broke ranks with their party to support the measure.
The resounding vote knocking down greenhouse gas regulations is far from surprising. House Republicans have made upending climate rules a top energy priority since they took over the majority, and EPA’s defenders in the chamber couldn’t do much to stand in their way.
The bill, (H.R. 910) from Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and his deputy on energy issues, Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), would repeal EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Republicans’ rebuke of EPA’s rules will no doubt energize their base, but the House bill is going nowhere fast.
A companion measure failed Wednesday in the Senate, winning only 50 votes — 10 short of the 60 needed for passage as an amendment to a small-business bill. And the White House earlier this week pledged to veto the bill if it managed to reach President Barack Obama’s desk.
Overcoming a veto would require two-thirds support of those voting in the House — 290 if all 435 members vote — and 67 of 100 senators.
Russell Train, who served as EPA chief under the Nixon and Ford administrations, called on the House on Thursday to reject the GOP measure and similar bids to unravel climate rules.
In a letter sent to top House lawmakers, he wrote, “These proposals to roll back Clean Air Act protections are driven not by science but by political considerations — to stall action on an emerging threat and shield elected officials from having to make difficult but necessary decisions. But as Congress itself has made clear, the Clean Air Act was not written to protect politicians; it was written to protect the American people.”
The House also easily rejected Democrats’ motion to recommit, which would have stipulated that EPA has the “authority to protect vulnerable children and seniors, including kids with asthma and lung diseases, from the ill effects of air pollution.”
Upton rebuffed the motion on the House floor, arguing that his bill wouldn’t affect the agency’s authority to curb asthma-causing pollutants.