Senate rejects attempt to weaken Clean Air Act

For now, the EPA is still on-track to regulate greenhouses gases and other toxic emissions, despite attempts by Congress to undermine the agency's authority.

Ideological battle rages as the Earth grows warmer every day

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Americans can breathe a little easier — at least in the short-term — as the U.S. Senate this week rejected various attempts to cut the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

“Today’s votes were an unprecedented assault on public health protections under the Clean Air Act. In 40 years we’ve never faced such a brazen attempt to rollback air quality standards,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “It remains to be seen which Senators will continue to side with clean air and who will vote to go backward.”

Republicans have promised to continue their attacks on the EPA, but several amendments offered by Senate Democrats, including Max Baucus (D-MT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), as well as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would have to varying degrees delayed or prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing congressionally mandated and Supreme Court-affirmed responsibilities to address greenhouse gases from the largest sources of pollution.

At issue are proposed EPA regulations that would force large industrial polluters to first inventory, then report, and ultimately control greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Republicans leading the attack against the agency claim the rules would hurt the economy.

“In the face of today’s repeated attempts to put our health and safety at risk, Colorado’s Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet fought to make sure that Americans will have clean air to breathe, said EDF vice president Steve Cochran. “They helped beat back four different measures in the U.S. Senate that would have weakened the Clean Air Act, which protects Americans from dangerous pollution like mercury, carbon, and methane. Senators Udall and Bennet showed the kind of leadership that we need in Congress.”

Along with voting against weakening the Clean Air Act, Sen. Bennet proposed a national renewable energy standard that would replicate Colorado’s highly touted clean energy model across the country.

“The Clean Air Act is one of our nation’s strongest and most effective pieces of legislation, and for more than 40 years we have seen that protecting the air we breathe does not have to come at a cost to the national economy,” Bennet said. “The Clean Air Act has been successful in reducing dozens of different pollutants, protecting the air we breathe, the public’s health and environment for millions of Americans. Today’s amendments would have weakened the Clean Air Act, increased our dependence on foreign oil and stifled Colorado’s growing clean energy industry.”

The 25 by 25 national RES bill, which was introduced by Senators Mark Udall and Tom Udall, would set a requirement that 25 percent of the nation’s electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2025, starting with 6 percent in 2013 and gradually increasing over the following years. The bill calls for electricity suppliers to retail customers to generate a set proportion of their electric supply from renewables, such as the sun or the wind. The bill rapidly ramps up clean, domestic sources of electricity by requiring the gradual increase in the amount of renewable energy utilities produce.

“Colorado’s robust renewable energy standard has already helped spark entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation,” Bennet said. “Across Colorado, I’ve met with small business owners and renewable energy companies that are tapping into the potential of clean, renewable energy sources to create jobs across our state.”

The bill exempts utilities selling less than 4 million megawatt hours per year.  Qualifying renewables include wind, solar, ocean, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydropower, hydrokinetic, new hydropower at existing dams, and waste-to-energy.

Under the bill, utilities would produce the specified amount of electricity or efficiency savings; purchase renewable energy or efficiency savings; purchase renewable energy credits or energy efficiency credits from entities that have an excess; or make alternative compliance payments.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s