This was a vote on final passage of legislation prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
Shortly after President Obama was sworn into office in 2009, the EPA defined greenhouse gases as a pollutant that endangered public health, thus laying the groundwork to regulate those gases under existing clean air laws. The underlying bill would have prohibited the EPA from carrying out such regulation.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) urged support for the bill: “EPA regulations will hit our manufacturing sector hard, with direct limits on factory emissions, indirect costs from the higher prices to power their facilities….this bill is also about energy prices for working families. Power plants will be forced to comply with strict new emission caps. You will have to purchase expensive new equipment to retrofit their facilities. We all know the costs have nowhere to go except on families' and businesses' monthly utility bills. And it is about gas prices…. When it costs more to make gasoline, it costs more to buy gasoline. And with prices already at $4 a gallon across much of the country, the last thing that our families need is government policies designed to make the price at the pump even higher. I am from Michigan. I know what a struggling economy, indeed, looks like. And I think that it is a travesty that this government is deliberately imposing policies that are going to harm job creators and working families.”
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) also supported the bill: “Now, what this really gets down to is about coal, because coal in America produces 52 percent of our electricity. In China, coal produces about 80 percent of their electricity. Electricity is produced at the lowest rate with coal. And that is necessary if America is going to be competitive in the global marketplace. That's why today you see China expanding its coal marketing and coal utilities to produce electricity. That's why in China you see so many jobs being produced because they produce at a very low cost. This legislation will stop EPA from driving up electricity costs in America. It will make it less likely that we are going to continue to lose jobs to China if we stop EPA….So if we want America to be competitive, to create jobs, to compete with China, we must stop this out-of-control EPA.”
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) opposed the bill: “Its [the underlying bill’s] premise is that climate change is a hoax and carbon pollution does not endanger health and welfare. But climate change is real. It is caused by pollution, and it is a serious threat to our health and welfare. We need to confront these realities, not put our heads in the sands. American families count on the Environmental Protection Agency to keep our air and water clean. But this bill has politicians overruling the experts at the Environmental Protection Agency, and it exempts our biggest polluters from regulation. If…[the underlying bill] is enacted, the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to control dangerous carbon pollution will be gutted. That's why health experts like the American Lung Association are opposed to this legislation. They know it is a polluters' protection act. It is anti-science, anti-environment, and anti-health….We need an energy policy based on science, not science fiction. With oil at $100 per barrel and rising, the Middle East in turmoil and a nuclear crisis in Japan, we urgently need clean energy policies.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) also opposed the bill: “In the last 40 years, hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers have found that global warming is caused by humans, is becoming worse, and poses a dire threat to our public health, national security and economic vitality. This bill makes Congress the final arbiter of science. That is a perilous path…to go down, and it repudiates 100 years of bipartisan efforts to craft public health legislation according to science. Not since the Scopes trial [in which a public school teacher in Tennessee was put on trial for teaching the theory of evolution] has a division of government waged such an outlandish assault on science. With H.R. 910, Republicans, sadly, have aligned themselves with that school board in Tennessee and with the Pope who excommunicated Galileo.”
The House passed this bill by a vote of 255-172. All 236 Republicans present and 19 Democrats voted “yea.” 172 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.