The United States Environmental Protection Agency's capacity to regulate greenhouse gas emissions may be coming to a swift end as the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, which looks to halt the agency's ability to govern greenhouse gas emissions.
The Republican legislation passed through the Committee with a vote of 34-19. All Republican members of Congress voted in favor of the bill.
The legislation would remove the EPA's finding that greenhouse gas emissions are dangerous to public health. It would also revoke the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions as well as eliminate the EPA's ability to grant waivers for to states so they can implement stricter fuel standards.
Several amendments to the bill were voted down before by the Energy and Commerce Committee before it passed the legislation. Included in those amendments was a proposal from Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) that "Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that 'warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average seal level.'"
This amendment was voted down 20-31. No Republicans voted in favor of the alteration. Additionally, another climate change amendment was stricken down by the exact same count. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) requested Congress accept there is scientific consensus that global climate change is not only occurring, but also that its major driver is human activity. No Republicans voted in favor of this amendment.
The Republicans stated their intention to battle greenhouse gas regulation from the onset of winning a majority in the House. And, despite the repeated evidence showing Republican officials deny anthropogenic global warming, the party insists this legislation has nothing to do with science, instead it repeals poor economic measures.
Republican Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky) said, "For us to be sitting around talking about the science, I think it's a strong argument to be made on the other side, but the issue here is that the Clean Air Act is not the appropriate vehicle to regulate something like this." The Republicans hope to have a full House vote on the bill before Easter.
Having the EPA regulate greenhouse gas emissions was the fallback plan for the Obama administration after it lost its battle to pass new energy legislation which would cap greenhouse gas emissions and promote the development of new energy sources last year. President Obama and his key officials continue to speak about "winning the clean energy innovation race," however, they cannot pass legislation which will enable the country to compete in, let alone win, this increasingly competitive race.
With the Republican party fervently opposed to any regulation which would regulate emissions, it appears progressive energy legislation may not be feasible in President Obama's first term.
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