Obama Issues Veto Threat to Defend Clean Air Act

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This week a House vote is being taken on another anti-EPA bill. The The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act, a Republican bill that would create a multi-million dollar multi-agency committee to analyze the economic cost of 10 EPA rules on smog-causing and heat-trapping gases, fine particulates, mercury, ozone, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide will likely pass the Republican-held House.

The bill is redundant. The EPA already quantifies the estimated costs and benefits of its rulings. The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) also normally scores each bill it is asked to, before a vote, also providing estimated costs to industry and benefits to the public. But congressional Republicans have become increasingly unhappy with the results. They believe that a new multi-agency committee will come up with results more to their liking.

Since taking the majority, the Republican-held House has greatly stepped up attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency, issuing direct measures to defund it, withdraw authority or to claw back environmental protections among 125 votes against the environment or clean energy in this congress.

In response, the White House today issued a veto threat. “As the president has made clear, the administration will continue to take steps to defend the authority of the Clean Air Act, and the important progress we have made to protect the air we breathe,” the White House official said. “These are smart standards that will save thousands of lives a year, and leverage technologies already successfully deployed in plants across the country.”

Realistically, however, a veto is not easily enacted. Republicans have attached controversial bills as riders on essential legislation, making a surgical strike against poison bills almost impossible. A president has no authority to pick out items with a veto pen. A typical example was last December when unemployment payments needed an extension, because of the record numbers of the long term unemployed since 2008.

In the past, extensions are routine when unemployment goes above 6%, and they are even more critical in today’s post-2008 financial apocalypse depression-era 9% unemployment. But Republicans attached a ransom – extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy – and got it, because there was no way to safely disentangle the hostage from the ransom.

Susan Kraemer
(About syndication)




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