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Republican victories boost effort to block EPA's climate rules

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For the Republicans, the first order of business could be legislation to stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

New York Times | November 4, 2010

Along with the Democrats, one of the biggest losers on Election Day was U.S. EPA, which is expected to be the target of bruising congressional attacks once the Republicans take control of the House and gain several seats in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

In the run-up to the election, Republicans campaigned against EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, pointing to her agency's new regulations as proof that President Obama and the Democrats are stifling the struggling economy.

Those types of attacks seemed to resonate yesterday in the Rust Belt, where supporters of climate legislation lost in droves. One of the few bright spots for Democrats was the victory of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, who had campaigned for the state's open Senate seat by vowing to challenge EPA regulations and airing a commercial in which he fired a rifle at the House-passed cap-and-trade bill.

Once the power shifts on Capitol Hill, experts say, the agency will face intense pressure as Republicans wield their newfound power and seek to set the tone for President Obama's re-election bid in 2012. The Obama administration will need to make tough choices once it is faced with hostile oversight hearings in the Republican-controlled House and efforts to block controversial regulations, experts say.

"If the Republicans had only picked up 30 or 40 seats in the House, I don't think it would have impacted [Obama's] regulatory agenda at all," said Andrew Wheeler, a former Republican staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who is now at B&D Consulting. "With such a large victory, it wasn't just that people were upset with the direction of congressional legislation. It was people upset with Obama's regulatory priorities, and in the Midwest at least, those people are upset with EPA."

For the Republicans, the first order of business could be legislation to stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Supporters of measures to block EPA's climate regulations say it is a foregone conclusion that the Republican-controlled House will pass such a bill during the next session. And in the Senate, where Democrats have spent the past two years bemoaning the rule requiring 60 votes to defeat a filibuster, that threshold appears to be the only thing that could stop such a measure from passing.

After yesterday's election, there appear to be at least 57 votes in the Senate for a measure to delay the agency's climate rules. That is 10 more votes than a similar measure had in June, when 47 senators supported a proposal from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to strip EPA of the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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