published Friday, November 11th, 2011

Clean air vote splits senators Alexander, Corker

by Chris Carroll
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., helped defeat a bill that would have weakened air pollution rules.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., helped defeat a bill that would have weakened air pollution rules.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander from Tennessee breathed new life into clean air policy Thursday, joining four Republicans in defeating a colleague's attempt to weaken EPA pollution rules.

Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, wanted to overturn a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule limiting the amount of power-plant fumes that can blow from a state into bordering states.

The Senate defeated Paul's resolution 56-41.

In a statement, Alexander, a Republican, sought to appease tea party members who support Paul, calling the EPA "a happy hunting ground" for unreasonable regulations.

"So why aren't we talking about those instead of a proposal to make it easier for dirty air to blow in our state, make us unhealthier, drive away tourists and cost us auto jobs?" he said.

Paul said his bill was meant to save jobs.

"I think we can have a clean environment and jobs," Paul said in a Senate floor debate, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. "But not if we let this administration continue to pass job-killing regulations."

Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, joined Alexander in rejecting Paul's resolution.

As promised, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., voted with Paul, splitting Tennessee's voices in the Senate. A staunch EPA opponent, Corker recently held an energy roundtable in which Chattanooga power officials, including TVA CEO Tom Kilgore, complained about the cost of compliance with EPA rules.

Paul's resolution had little chance of going anywhere, even if the Senate and House had passed it. President Barack Obama foreshadowed a veto when he issued a statement warning that Paul's resolution would dirty the air and worsen public health, the Courier-Journal reported.

Earlier this week, Alexander introduced a bill that would make the EPA rule a law, costing TVA ratepayers "between $1 and $2 a month" extra on their power bills, his office said. It's unclear whether Alexander's measure has any traction since it's in early legislative stages.

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XGSBoss said...

I am no environmental expert, let me say that up front. But when I read that Corker is a staunch EPA opponent and is siding with TVA in its desire to kill us off in the name of profits, I get a little afraid.

Is it expensive to comply with the EPA? I bet it is. But I would hate to see what an unregulated powerplant would do to the ecosystem because we dumped the regulations to cut our power bills or save a few hundred jobs. I have to care whether my son develops asthma or lung cancer from simply breathing. Or intakes any number of known and unknown carcinogens from eating and drinking. Alexander is actually right-on here. Reign in the EPA and create jobs in the process. But don't kill my kid for the sake of those goals.

November 11, 2011 at 10:12 a.m.
hambone said...

The clean air regs. have been on the books for years. The power companies lobbyists have succedded in getting delay after delay from Congress.

TVA is closer to meeting these clean air regs. than any other power company!

November 11, 2011 at 8:08 p.m.
WMBder said...

I am a Republican and have been my entire life. I like Rand Paul, but this was not a good resolution. I agree with Sen. Alexander on this one. With that being said, the EPA is a huge problem. It is easy to see why so many people are frustrated. I don't think the EPA needs to be eliminated, but I don't think people fully understand how expensive and difficult it is to comply with their standards. It really hurts these companies, and that kills jobs. If the EPA isn't overhauled and scaled back drastically, it won't be around much longer. Great article Chris.

November 16, 2011 at 2:36 a.m.
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