Senate Defeats Amendments Preventing EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Senate defeated four amendments yesterday that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). One of the amendments, by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), would have prevented the EPA from implementing a U.S. Supreme Court order to regulate GHG emissions under the CAA. The amendment needed 60 votes to pass and only received a 50-50 vote.

Environmental groups expressed relief over the defeat of the amendments. “The Senate today rightly chose to protect our health and environment rather than to give in to polluters’ demands for a free pass when it comes to greenhouse gas pollution,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The climate crisis can be solved, but it requires real leadership — not politicians beholden to Big Coal, Oil and Gas.”

With Democrats like these who needs Republicans

The three other amendments were all by Democrats. An amendment by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) would have exempted certain sources of GHG emissions from being regulated under the CAA.  The amendment was defeated by a vote of 93 to seven, with no Republicans voting for it. The Democrats who voted for the amendment were Senators  Kay Hagan (NC), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Mark Begich (AK), Tim Johnson (SD), Sen. Kent Conrad (ND) and Carl Levin (MI).

Senator Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) amendment would have delayed EPA regulation for GHG emissions for at least two years for industrial sources such as coal fired plants. It was defeated by a vote of 93 to seven, with no Republicans voting for it. The Democrats who voted for it were Senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Bob Casey (PA), Kent Conrad (ND), Tim Johnson (SD), Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Mark Pryor (AR)

The CAA would not have had its standards updated for at least two years with an amendment by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). The amendment was defeated 88 to 12. The Senators who voted for it included: Senators Scott Brown (R-MA Susan Collins (R-ME), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Jim Webb (D-VA).

The White House released a statement on the defeat of the amendments, stating it was “encouraged by the Senate’s actions today to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect public health under the Clean Air Act.”

The House voted in favor of legislation to prevent EPA regulations on April 7, 2011. The bill passed with 255 in favor and 172 against, with 19 Democrats voting for it.

Industry leaders and American public support regulations

In February, industry leaders met on Capitol Hill about the EPA regulations. One of the industry leaders,  Paul Allen from the Baltimore-based utility Constellation Energy said his company supports the regulations.  “Our view is that EPA is doing its best to follow the instructions, to play the game by the rules. We’re in an industry that is completely capable of responding to those rules. We expect that there will be reasonable flexibility in both the rules and enforcement guidelines,” Allen said.

A recent survey by the American Lung Association found that three out of four voters support tougher EPA regulations of air pollutants, including carbon dioxide. Sixty-eight percent of voters oppose congressional measures to prevent the EPA from updating the CAA standards, and 64 percent oppose congressional measures to stop the EPA from regulating carbon emissions.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

Leave a Reply