World and Nation

Obama’s regulatory air emission program halted by Congress

WASHINGTON — The House voted 255 to 172 Thursday to halt the Obama administration’s program to regulate industrial air emissions linked to climate change, delivering a rebuke to a central tenet of the president’s energy and environmental policy.

Nineteen Democrats joined in approving a bill that, were it to become law, would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from acting to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that the agency has declared a threat to human health and the environment.

The measure would also nullify a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that gave the agency the authority to issue regulations to curb those emissions.

The bill stands little chance of becoming law because a similar measure voted on in the Senate on Wednesday came up 10 votes short of the 60 votes needed to avert a filibuster. President Barack Obama this week threatened to veto any measure that would hinder the administration’s efforts to restrict emissions that scientists say are warming the atmosphere and leading to potentially devastating changes in the global climate.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the vote a victory for American families and jobs as well as a message to the White House that its regulatory agenda was unpopular with many voters.

“Our thoughtful, bipartisan solution reins in an EPA gone wild whose bureaucrats are oblivious to the nation’s economic woes and soaring unemployment,” said Upton, who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Edward Whitfield, R-Ky.

On Wednesday, the Senate defeated four amendments that would have permanently or temporarily prevented the environmental agency from policing greenhouse gas emissions, including one measure that was virtually identical to the House bill. That amendment, sponsored by Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, both Republicans, drew four Democratic votes but remained well short of a filibuster-proof majority.

The votes leave Congress deadlocked for now on an issue that has stirred heated scientific, economic and political debate for years.

Republican leaders are pushing to attach similar anti-EPA measures to the current-year budget bill that is being negotiated. If that fails, they will most likely try again on future spending bills.

Thursday’s vote was in sharp contrast to action two years ago, when a Democratic-controlled House passed a comprehensive climate change and energy bill that would have created a nationwide trading system to rein in carbon dioxide emissions. That legislation died last year in the Senate.