Votes on measures to greatly restrict EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases (“GHG”) met different fates the week of April 4 through April 8 in the two chambers but reflected growing bipartisan support for such constraints. The Senate voted down four amendments offered by Senators Baucus (D- Mont.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Rockefeller (D.-W.Va.), and McConnell-Inhofe (R.-Ky. and Okla.) to restrict by varying degree’s EPA’s ability to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act. On the heels of the Senate votes, the House on Thursday passed legislation by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to permanently block EPA’s GHG regulatory authority by a large bipartisan majority which included nineteen Democrats.
McConnell-Inhofe was the Senate companion bill to the successful Upton House legislation. It was the most restrictive of the proposed bills and received fifty favorable votes in the Senate, the most of all of the four proposals. The Rockefeller bill would have delayed GHG regulation for two years, the Baucus bill would have essentially codified EPA’s “tailoring” rule, and the Stabenow bill was an amalgam of the Rockefeller and Baucus bills. These three bills received votes from 14 Senators who did not vote for McConnell-Inhofe, for a total of 64 senators supporting some form of restraint of EPA’s GHG regulatory authority. While Democrats emphasized the unlikelihood of a necessary compromise to reconcile the four different bills, Republicans pointed to sixty-four votes total in favor of EPA constraint as a sign of an optimistic outlook for an EPA-blocking measure.