Klobuchar, Peterson break with party to vote against EPA


Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Collin Peterson are two Minnesota Democrats who broke with their party on restrictions to the Environmental Protection Agency in its monitoring and enforcement of greenhouse gases. Klobuchar’s votes were criticized by environmental groups while at least one conservative took her to task for not supporting strong enough restrictions. During the budget showdown, Peterson played an important role in a controversial measure to prevent the EPA from monitoring greenhouse gases.

Environment Minnesota, in an email to supporters, blasted Klobuchar for her votes last week. “With these votes, Sen. Klobuchar had a choice: stand up for the health of our children, elderly citizens and other vulnerable populations, or do the bidding of America’s biggest polluters. And Senator Klobuchar chose to side with polluters.”

ThinkProgress called Klobuchar one of the 17 “dirty Democrats.”

Klobuchar voted for the Baucus amendment which would have exempted agriculture and small emitters. It failed with the GOP opposing it for not being strong enough and only a handful of Democrats voting “aye.” Klobuchar also voted for the Stabenow amendment which would have put restrictions on the EPA enforcement of greenhouse gases for two years.

Phil Kerpen of the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity trashed those measures calling them “phony amendments that only pretended to stop the EPA’s job-crushing regulations.”

The White House praised the Senate for rejecting the efforts that Klobuchar backed.

“The administration is encouraged by the Senate’s actions today to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect public health under the Clean Air Act,” President Obama said in a statement. “By rejecting efforts to rollback EPA’s common-sense steps to safeguard Americans from harmful pollution, the Senate also rejected an approach that would have increased the nation’s dependence on oil, contradicted the scientific consensus on global warming, and jeopardized America’s ability to lead the world in the clean energy economy.”

The Senate cast its votes to curtail the EPA’s authority on greenhouse gases last Wednesday, and the House – with the help of a few Democrats – attempted to add them to the budget resolution that almost shut down the government.

Rep. Peterson was at the heart of those efforts.

He was a cosponsor of the attempt to curtail the EPA. According to the New York Times, he offered legislation because of “all this stuff the EPA is doing to ethanol and every other damn thing they are doing.”

In a statement, Peterson cited agricultural concerns.

“This bill hits the pause button on EPA’s current efforts to regulate greenhouse gases,” he said. “America’s farmers and ranchers are committed to preserving our natural resources for the next generation, but what we’re seeing from EPA could potentially interfere with conservation efforts already underway. EPA’s regulations would not only make it harder for agriculture producers to meet increased demand but raise costs on all consumers. If Congress fails to act the economic effects could be devastating.”

The measure was cosponsored by Peterson as well as Republican Reps. John Kline and Michele Bachmann, and was eventually pulled in the final budget agreement late Friday night.