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Clean Air Act
The New York Times, March 15, 2011

House Panel Votes to Limit E.P.A. Power
By John M. Broder

WASHINGTON — Moving on a central tenet of the Republican energy and environment platform, a House committee on Tuesday approved a measure to halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Republican leaders promised a floor vote on the bill before the Easter recess.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the bill, known as the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, by a vote of 34 to 19. Three Democrats, Representatives John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike Ross of Arkansas, voted with the unanimous Republican majority.

The bill would repeal the E.P.A.’s finding that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are a threat to human health and the environment and would bar the agency from imposing new rules to control them. Its Republican sponsors argue that new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from refineries, power plants and other major sources would drive up energy prices, depress the economy and hamper job creation.

Before approving the measure, the committee rejected three Democratic amendments intended to put the panel’s Republican majority on record rejecting the scientific basis of climate change, the role of human activity in contributing to it and the urgency of acting on the problem. The amendments failed.

As the House climate measure was moving toward seemingly inevitable passage, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, attached an amendment with virtually identical language to a small-business bill now before the Senate.

“They’re attempting to do through regulation what they couldn’t do through legislation — regardless of whether the American people want it or not,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement. “This is an insult to the millions of Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet or find a job.”

A vote on the McConnell amendment will be a test of anti-E.P.A. sentiment in the Senate, where a bill similar to the House measure has the support of most Republicans and one Democrat, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

President Obama has promised to veto any measure to limit E.P.A. authority.

© 2011 The New York Times Company

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton