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Rockefeller Bill Would Gut the EPA

by Peter Rothberg

This morning the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Upton-Inhofe bill (H.R. 910) on a largely party line vote of 34 to 19. The legislation attempts to overturn the EPA’s scientific finding that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases endanger public health and welfare and thus require regulation. The NRDC's Pete Altman live blogged most of the markup. It will go to a full House vote some time in the next few weeks, where it is expected to pass easily. Meanwhile Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered the same bill as an amendment to an unrelated small business bill.

Now Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller has an alternate proposal which would delay EPA regulations for two years.The problem: his bill would have the same result as Inhofe's: it would kill EPA climate rules, as the eminent climate blogger Dave Roberts detailed at Grist.

Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller has an alternate proposal which would delay EPA regulations for two years.The problem: his bill would have the same result as a bill proposed by Republican Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK): it would kill EPA climate rules. The Senate is likely to vote down Inhofe's bill, Roberts explained. But Rockefeller's bill could get enough votes to pass. Obama would probably veto Inhofe's bill. But he might let Rockefeller's pass as a rider. So Rockefeller's bill has a better chance of getting through and is thus a far greater threat.

As NRDC blogger Dan Lashof rightly insists, "The reason both Rockefeller and McConnell launched a sneak attack on the Clean Air Act is clear. There is broad public support for the EPA in general and limiting carbon pollution using the Clean Air Act in particular (See here and here for example). If you are trying to pass legislation that sides with big polluters rather than your constituents, your best bet it to try to sneak it through when no one is looking."

Senator Rockefeller claims that his bill is not as extreme as Upton-Inhofe -- and he's right. But, as many experts have pointed out, it would have much the same effect.

This is a bad deal for public health.  While the EPA is blocked from doing its job year after year, nothing will be done to reduce the pollution that is contributing to death, illness, and injury through more killer heat waves, increasing smog, the spread of infectious diseases, and stronger storms, floods, hurricanes and extreme weather patterns.

The latest report from the Senate floor is that votes on these amendments won’t happen tonight, but will probably occur tomorrow.

Call your Senators now at 202-224-3121 and implore them to vote against any legislation that would block the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide.

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