White House threatens veto of Senate vote on EPA greenhouse rule

08 June 2010 20:24  [Source: ICIS news]

Obama may veto billWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The White House on Tuesday indicated that President Barack Obama would veto a pending US Senate resolution meant to block regulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The resolution, SJR-26, was up for a Senate floor vote on Thursday this week and has the backing of 38 Republican and three Democrat senators in the 100-seat chamber.

Sponsored initially by Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican-Alaska), the resolution would need approval of only 51 senators to pass.

Senate approval of the measure was thought to be very possible by observers, given that the resolution already has the certain votes of its 41 senate sponsors.

If approved by the Senate, the measure would then have to be approved by the US House, where opposition to the EPA’s plans to regulate greenhouse gases across the nation also was substantial.

Many Democrats and Republicans in Congress shared the view that substantive US climate change policy should be set by the nation’s legislators, not  regulators at the EPA.

Chemical industry officials along with a broad range of other manufacturing and business interests have attacked the EPA’s plan to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by factories and commercial facilities, warning that such reductions would force major energy cost increases and economic decline.

However, the White House issued a statement of administration policy on Tuesday saying that the Obama administration “strongly opposes Senate passage of SJR-26”, saying that the resolution would block EPA’s “efforts to cut pollution that threatens our health and well-being”.

The administration cited the ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as another reason why the EPA should proceed with regulating greenhouse gases as part of an effort to wean the US off of oil and other hydrocarbon energy sources.

The Murkowski resolution essentially would void the EPA’s recent “endangerment finding”, the agency’s determination that greenhouse gases are subject to its regulation under the Clean Air Act because they cause global warming, which in turn threatens the environment and human health.

That endangerment finding also was the target of some 20 industry and state lawsuits that challenge the agency's global warming assumptions, but those court actions were not likely to produce a resolution for a year or two at the earliest.

The White House statement indicated that Obama would veto the Murkowski resolution if it were approved by both the Senate and House - although the declaration stopped short of saying that he would in fact veto it.

The statement said only that Obama’s “senior advisors would recommend that he veto the resolution”.  This is seen by observers as leaving the option open for Obama’s approval if the House and Senate votes against EPA regulation of greenhouse gases show majorities strong enough to overturn his veto.

($1 = €0.84)

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