The U.S. House passed legislation prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, defying an Obama administration threat to veto the bill.
The measure by Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was approved 255-172 today with 19 Democrats joining 236 Republicans. The bill needs approval from the Senate and President Barack Obama to become law. Obama aides will advise a veto, the administration said in an April 5 statement.
Republican lawmakers and some Democrats say the EPA is going too far with regulations such as limits on carbon-dioxide gases. The rules were imposed by the agency to control heat-trapping emissions after Congress failed to pass climate- change legislation backed by the president. EPA opponents say the regulations are unnecessary and threaten the economy.
The bill will “permanently prevent the EPA from implementing regulations that would cost our economy billions of dollars, destroy jobs, and force American families and businessmen and women to bear ever-increasing gas and utility costs,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said in a statement after the vote.
The Republican-led House voted a day after the Democratic-controlled Senate defeated measures that would delay or prohibit the greenhouse-gas rules. An amendment by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, based on Upton’s bill, failed 50-50, with 60 votes needed. Four Democrats joined the Republicans, and Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, sided with the Democrats.
White House Praise
White House press secretary Jay Carney praised the Senate for rejecting an approach that he said would increase U.S. reliance on oil and deny the scientific consensus on the threat of climate change.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s biggest business lobby, cited “strong bipartisan” votes in the House and Senate to curb the EPA.
“Congress needs to determine the scope of the Clean Air Act, not EPA,” William Kovacs, the Washington-based group’s senior vice president of environment, technology, and regulatory affairs, said today in a statement. “Allowing the EPA to impose this expansive set of regulations would hurt the economy, cost jobs, and harm America’s competitiveness.”
Upton’s legislation would strip the EPA of authority to regulate emissions from stationary polluters, such as power plants and oil refineries, under the Clean Air Act. It also would reject the agency’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public and prohibit it from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles after 2017.
The American Lung Association, a health-advocacy group, said the measure guts the federal Clean Air Act by which the EPA regulates pollutions, putting the public’s health in danger.
“Upton’s bill is a reckless and irresponsible attempt to once again put special interests ahead of public health, a maneuver the public is staunchly opposed to,” President Charles Connor said in a statement.
A February poll commissioned by the Washington-based health group found that 60 percent of people questioned said Congress shouldn’t stop the EPA rules and 35 percent thought lawmakers should bar the agency from limiting discharges of carbon dioxide, a primary greenhouse gas.
The survey of 500 probable voters Feb. 7-14 by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Republican pollster Ayres, McHenry & Associates, according to the association. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.
The House bill is H.R. 910.