PARKERSBURG - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin was one of only four Democrats to side with Republicans Wednesday on an amendment curtailing the federal Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Needing 60 votes to pass, the Senate on a 50-50 vote defeated a proposal from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., prohibiting the agency from enforcing the pollution standards.
Democrats voting in favor were Manchin Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
"I believe it is fundamentally wrong for any bureaucratic agency to go around the will of the people and try to regulate what we lawmakers have not legislated," Manchin said. "The EPA's overreach is destroying jobs in my state and all over the country, and it must be stopped. I am committed to using every tool at my disposal to put this agency back in its proper place."
The EPA in January began regulating greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions at large fixed-site producers of the gases, such as coal-fired power plants, factories and refineries.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., voted against the amendment and earlier said forever stripping the EPA of its authority was irresponsible. Only one Republican, Collins of Maine, voted against.
Rockfeller's amendment imposing a 24-month moratorium on regulation, which was supported by Manchin, was defeated 88-12 on Wednesday. McConnell said the moratorium was politically motivated for the 2012 elections.
The House of Representatives on Thursday passed House Resolution 910, a bill similar to the amendment rejected by the Senate. The bill was supported by Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, Nick Joe Rahall and David McKinley, who was among the 10 original sponsors of the resolution.
"This move today will help further protect our industries in West Virginia because stopping the EPA isn't a partisan issue for West Virginians, it's simple economic survival," McKinley said.
The White House has threatened to veto the legislation.
Rockefeller is not giving up and said he will continue to work on legislation for the two-year moratorium.
"We need a timeout on EPA regulations right now and I don't understand why Republicans are saying they will block what we're trying to do just to score a point against the White House. If that happens, it's a shame," Rockefeller said. "The plan I have for blocking the EPA will protect West Virginia, allow miners to keep their jobs, and is reasonable enough that it can become law. None of the other plans have any chance of that."