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States' Rights only when convenient?

14 Jul 2011  |   Emma Brown

Tags: Clean Air, Congress, House

The House approved H.R. 2018 Wednesday evening, with a 239 - 184 vote. Support for the vote fell largely along party lines; however 16 Democrats supported the measure, while 13 Republicans opposed it. Known as the “dirty water” bill, the Act prevents the EPA from overriding out-dated or lax state clean water standards. 

The Hill’s Pete Kasperowicz reports that supporting members justified the measure by arguing that the measure prevents the EPA from encroaching on state policies. Kasperowicz writes:

“During brief debate on the rule, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the EPA has evolved into an agency that ignores the system of ‘cooperative federalism’ that was originally intended in the Clean Water Act. He and others added that the EPA completely undermines state governments and local companies with arbitrary rules that continue to hurt economic growth in the U.S.”

Yet on Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved 27 – 20 Rep. Steve Austria’s (R – OH) amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill. In addition to prohibiting the EPA from taking action, Austria’s amendment effectively strips the rights of California and several other state governments from independently limiting vehicle tailpipe emissions in 2017-25 models.

Of the Republican members on the Appropriations Committee, only three—C.W. Bill Young of Florida, Frank Wolf of Virginia, and Jeff Flake of Arizona—voted against the dirty water bill that supporters insisted was intended to protect states’ rights. All Democrats on the Committee voted against the dirty water bill.

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