The US Senate finally halted an effort by the Republican party to eliminate the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and large stationary polluters. The bill’s main target was the EPA’s most recent effort to limit emissions from large culprits like power plants and refineries — which the state of Texas also has its arguments against. The GOP fighters believed that a curb on emissions would mean reductions in jobs across the country, a hike in prices and a serious loss for the economy. They’ve been defeated in the Senate and it looks like their message just didn’t stick.
The effort by the GOP was meant to stop a move by the EPA which was sanctioned by a Supreme Court decision in 2007 to decide whether carbon dioxide and other emissions were considered polluters under the Clean Air Act and if they were, to start putting limits on them. After the Senate vote was tallied the numbers came to 50 for and 50 against, effectively killing the bill’s future by eliminating the prospect of a filibuster — which you need 60 votes for. The EPA is moving forward with their efforts by starting with the largest emitters this year — and with vehicle emissions — and in a long term plan moving down the chain to smaller emitters in the future when the emissions technology has progressed. The GOP has been trying to position the EPA as a job killer, saying these limits would impose financial burdens on businesses forcing them to cut jobs.
For just a moment, we’re triumphant in the knowledge that even if they can’t make a comprehensive climate bill, Congress can keep some environmental laws intact — although if they can’t pass a budget by tomorrow, we’re all in a lot of trouble. The White House, for one, was happy about the vote’s 50-50 outcome. “By rejecting efforts to rollback EPA’s common-sense steps to safeguard Americans from harmful pollution, the Senate also rejected an approach that would have increased the nation’s dependence on oil, contradicted the scientific consensus on global warming, and jeopardized America’s ability to lead the world in the clean energy economy,” said Jay Carney — White House press secretary — in a written statement.