House Fires Shot at Obama Climate Rules

Defying a veto threat, Republicans push through bill to limit EPA regulation of power plants.

NEW EAGLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant located 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on September 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, will be one of two plants in the region to be shut down, affecting 380 employees. The Evironmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Obama administration have been taking major steps to get coal-fired power plants into compliance with clean air regulations. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
National Journal
Mike Magner
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Mike Magner
March 6, 2014, 10:10 a.m.

Ten Democrats joined 219 Republicans to help the House pass legislation Thursday that would limit President Obama’s efforts to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants.

Only three Republicans — Reps. Chris Gibson of New York, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey — voted against the bill that was approved on a tally of 229-183.

The measure has little chance of getting through the Democratic-controlled Senate, and even if it did the White House issued a veto threat against the bill earlier this week.

The chief Republican sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, said the bill would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing limits on power-plant emissions that adversely affected the economy. “Far from barring EPA from controlling greenhouse-gas emissions, by insisting on standards based on proven technologies our approach will actually work,” Whitfield said in a joint statement with the Democratic sponsor of a similar bill in the Senate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

The bill would prevent EPA from issuing emission limits for future power plants unless it could show the standard had been met for a full year at six different plants using existing technology. It also would block new regulations set to be issued this year for existing power plants until Congress voted to set the effective date.

“If this bill were to become law, it would seriously cripple the Obama administration’s ongoing drive to curb dangerous carbon pollution, which is harming our air, our lands, and our waters, and push us ever faster on a path to unmanageable climate disruption,” said Dan Lashof, program director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Democrats who voted for the bill were Reps. John Barrow and Sanford Bishop, both of Georgia; Jim Costa of California; Henry Cuellar of Texas; Bill Enyart of Illinois; Jim Matheson of Utah; Mike McIntyre of North Carolina; Collin Peterson of Minnesota; Nick Rahall of West Virginia; and Terri Sewell of Alabama.

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