Once again, the Environmental Protection Agency will face the threat of being cut off at the knees by the United States Senate.

The latest attack is likely to come from the Senate Appropriations Committee in the form of an amendment to the EPA and Department of Interior’s budgets. A simple amendment could be added to the EPA’s operating budget which could hamstring climate regulation for any period of time. This latest example, in what is becoming a pattern of attacks, is probably not what many envisioned when Democrats took a 60-40 majority in the Senate on the heels of Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

Since then, the Democratic party’s control of the Senate has had one tough time galvanizing support to even vote on legitimate climate legislation. On the other hand, Republicans have had little difficulty taking shots at the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gasses. 

Time and time again, the EPA has ended up with its back against the wall. In July, a subcommittee in the House of Representatives fell a vote shy of delaying the EPA’s new climate regulations for two years. Later in the summer, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to essentially veto the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions fell just a few votes short of passing the Senate. 

No wonder those wanting real climate legislation can’t go on the offensive. They are constantly put on the defensive. 

Now, climate optimists (are there any left?) will contend that all of this anti-climate grandstanding by Republicans is nothing more than a bunch of noise. These people will say that the threats are empty as long as President Obama can veto the strings attached to the EPA’s power. 

That is all well and good for the time being, but look at the numbers in the Senate. Even with Democrats holding a majority, the Murkowski resolution fell only by four votes thanks to Democrats from coal and farming states who fell off board.

If another challenge to the EPA comes out of the Appropriations Committee it will be interesting to see if any more Democrats break ranks. Not too many people are saying the Democrat’s majority will expand this November. If any more climate conscience senators fall off board at the hands of voters in November’s elections, Republicans may set their sights on overriding a presidential veto.

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