Senate Agrees to Vote on Proposal to Halt EPA’s CO2 Action

By Ian Talley
The Wall Street Journal
December 23, 2009

The Obama administration may be forced to delay new greenhouse-gas regulations for a year under a Senate Republican proposal that the Democratic leadership has agreed to allow a vote on in early 2010.

As part of a deal on a bill to increase the nation’s debt limit, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) will allow the GOP to submit a controversial amendment to temporarily suspend new emissions regulation. The agreement was reached late Tuesday.

While it’s unclear whether the proposal will become law, it could be an early show of how many Democrats support the administration’s decision to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

A similar amendment wasn’t allowed to come up for a vote earlier this year. Capitol Hill pundits say the majority leader likely feared Republicans might win the vote, with many Democrats also expressing concern about proposed greenhouse-gas regulations.

The Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency has triggered the process of regulating greenhouse gases across industries through the Clean Air Act by declaring such emissions a public danger. Business groups, lawyers, legislators and industry analysts say regulating such emissions as carbon dioxide under the law could cripple the economy.

EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said the agency is “highly respectful of Congress” role and will continue to work with members of both Houses as they approach this issue.”

While the EPA hadn’t seen the amendment, Ms. Andy said, “as this process moves forward it is important not to lose sight of what led to where we are today.” In particular, she noted the EPA’s actions follow a Supreme Court order to determine whether greenhouse gases are a public danger and are within the mandate of Congressionally-prescribed statutes.

The EPA’s action under the tenure of Administrator Lisa Jackson and Obama’s climate czar, Carol Browner, is meant to pressure Congress into crafting a more economically efficient way to curb emissions, analysts say. Both Ms. Jackson and Ms. Browner, recognizing the consequences of regulating under the Act, have said they prefer congressional legislation.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and chief sponsor of the amendment, has said a number of colleagues across the aisle have already expressed support for her proposal.

The article continues at WSJ.

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