Sanity in the Main Stream Media
EPA's days as 'rogue agency' are numbered
Lost in the kabuki-dance drama of last week's budget showdown were immensely important votes in the Senate and House on the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to govern through regulation. In the House, 19 Democrats joined the Republican majority in a decisive 255-172 vote to defund the EPA's attempt to circumvent Congress and begin its own cap-and-trade program.
The measure was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan. A companion measure introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, fell just short of the votes needed for passage, despite support from three Democrats.
Supporters of the EPA effort should think twice before cheering the outcome of the Senate vote because, while the regulatory initiative is safe for now, the prospects for its long-term survival are dim, prompting Politico to headline a recent story, "EPA holds on for dear life." The reason the outlook is so grim for the EPA on this issue is the fact that a growing number of congressional Democrats have had enough of being threatened by executive branch political appointees.
The threats started in 2009 when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson warned that her agency would move with a regulatory version of cap and trade if Congress failed to approve President Obama's legislative version of the program. Predictably, the House, led then by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, approved the Obama bill by a wide margin. But things stalled in the Senate prior to the 2010 midterm congressional election. When Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin of West Virginia won election after running a well-publicized TV spot featuring him putting a bullet from a high-powered rifle through a target labeled "cap and trade," Jackson moved to make good on her threat.
Shortly after the House vote last week, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif. -- who opposed the Upton measure -- told Politico that a growing number of his Democratic colleagues were beginning to view the EPA as a "rogue agency." He added, "I think the president's out of step on this one, and he's going to have to get his agency under control."
Despite the setback last week, Inhofe was upbeat because on the four separate votes that were held on his proposal and three alternatives, a total of 64 senators voted to restrain EPA to one degree or another. Inhofe promised to bring the issue back to the Senate in the near future and noted: "When all is said and done, a bipartisan majority in the Senate issued a sobering message to EPA: Its cap-and-trade agenda is wearing thin, suggesting it's time to reverse course to put Congress back in charge of America's energy policy." Obama and Jackson should heed Inhofe's warning.