Nov 10 2011
By Raju Chebium and Nicole Guadiano
WASHINGTON – The Senate on Thursday rejected an effort to block an Environmental Protection Agency rule aimed at limiting pollution that crosses state lines and hurts air quality in Delaware and other states.
The Environmental Protection Agency's regulation requires coal plants in 27 states to cut emissions that drift across state lines.
In Thursday's procedural vote, 56 senators opposed the move to block the rule and 41 supported it.
Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, who chairs a subcommittee overseeing the Clean Air Act, said Delaware has made great strides in cleaning up its own pollution, but upwind states haven't invested heavily enough in new clean-air technologies.
"Downwind states can spend millions of dollars to clean up their act, but unless we require upwind states to make serious reductions, states like mine won't get much healthier and people will continue to get sick and die," Carper said Thursday on the Senate floor. "For all Delawareans and all the others who are living at the end of that tailpipe, I say enough is enough."
Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who introduced the proposal to block the EPA rule, called it another example of a "job-killing regulation" by the Obama administration.
"We can have a clean environment and we can have jobs," he said on the Senate floor before the vote. "This is about whether or not we can have a balanced approach."
The new rule, finalized in July, replaces a 2005 EPA regulation and satisfies a 2008 federal court ruling. EPA officials estimate the rule will prevent up to 34,000 deaths a year linked to respiratory illnesses — including 140 in Delaware — and tens of thousands of non-fatal illnesses and symptoms.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said the state's business groups support the rule.
"They know it's only fair to level the playing field for New Jersey businesses since we have already substantially cleaned up our electric-generation facilities," he said on the Senate floor. "It's a good rule for the economy. It's a good rule for the health and well-being of Americans."