This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) that would have allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The underlying bill banned the EPA from regulating such gases. This amendment would have eliminated that prohibition, and instead required the EPA to conduct a study the long-term effects of banning regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
Jackson Lee urged support for her amendment: “I cannot envision any American living in a polluted area wanting to support a permanent ban on the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gases….As a Houstonian the affects of H.R. 910 [the underlying bill] are of particular concern to me. A study conducted by the American Lung Association ranked Houston as the 7th most ozone-polluted city in the country. Children, teens, senior citizens, and people with lung diseases like asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and others are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality and are at risk for developing irreversible lung damage….My amendment requires the EPA to carefully study this issue and to determine the long term impact on health, the industry and the environment. I strongly urge my colleagues to support a reasonable, fair and measured response to addressing regulation of greenhouse gases.”
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) opposed the amendment: “If we accept the gentlelady from Houston's [Jackson Lee’s] amendment, you do really gut this bill, which, if you are opposed to it, that's probably a good outcome. But if you are supportive of it, it's not a good outcome. We don't need to do a study. CO2 is not a pollutant under the definitions of the Clean Air Act. It's not harmful to health…As I speak, I create CO2, and so you need CO 2 for life. Manmade CO2 does not significantly contribute to climate change. We do have climate change, as we always have and always will. But to say that CO2 emissions made by man somehow are causing all these catastrophic changes is simply not true. What the bill before us does is say we protect the Clean Air Act, we want to enforce the Clean Air Act, but we want it to be in force for the criteria pollutants that it was intended for, and we do not believe that CO2 is one of the pollutants that it was intended to regulate. So we don't need a study, and I would oppose my good friend from Houston's amendment and encourage all members to also oppose it.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 161-259. Voting “yea” were 161 Democrats—including a majority of progressives. All 238 Republicans present and 21 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. —and would have required the EPA to conduct a study on the long-term effects of banning regulation of greenhouse gas emissions).