Saturday, September 23, 2017

How Did Your Senators Vote On Climate Amendments Last Week? Hotline 3.28.13

US Climate Action Network

How Did Your Senators Vote

On Climate Amendments Last Week?

In case you missed it: All through the night on Friday and into the wee hours of Saturday morning (March 22-23)—while many of us were sleeping—the US Senate voted on dozens of amendments and finally passed a blueprint for next year’s federal budget (S. Con. Res. 8).

The early morning action itself was noteworthy as it was the first time in four years a budget resolution has passed in the Senate. Senators filed hundreds of amendments to the budget resolution, and several climate-related amendments received votes. The number of amendments considered by the Senate was remarkable: 101 amendments, with 70 of those receiving votes in the overnight “vote-o-rama.” Many of those who stayed awake to watch the votes probably did so because this was the first opportunity to see votes on climate change in the new Congress. Even though the budget resolution does not become law, votes on the amendments are important indicators of Senators’ views. These votes focused on important issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline, carbon taxes, and EPA’s ability to safeguard public health.

What is the budget resolution?
The budget resolution, which sets out aggregate levels of spending, revenue, and public debt over five years, is not signed by the President and does not have the force of law; rather, it establishes parameters within which Congress can consider legislation dealing with spending and revenue.

We encourage you to check your Senators’ votes on climate-related amendments and express your thanks or concerns about the positions they took. Below you will find descriptions (published by various USCAN members and allies) with the final vote tallies for several negative amendments related to climate and energy, as well as a link to the official roll call for each vote so you can see how your Senators voted.

From ThinkProgress:

“Blunt #261: This amendment would have blocked future legislation to impose a carbon tax or fee to reduce industrial carbon pollution and raise revenue. Specifically, the amendment would create a “point-of-order” against any carbon tax measure that could only be overcome with a three-fifths vote of legislators. While it would have been a mostly symbolic move, the fossil fuel industry’s friends in the Senate are reiterating their opposition to government action on climate pollution. However, the impacts of climate change have already been felt across the country — in 2011 and 2012, the United States suffered from 25 climate related storms, floods, heat waves, drought, and wildfires that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, with a total price tag of $188 billion. The Blunt amendment would allow these damages and costs to grow unchecked. Result:  FAILED 53-46

(Source:  7 Deadly Amendments That Would’ve Protected Dirty Energy And Trashed The Climate, Climate Progress Blog, 3.24.13)

“Coats #514: This amendment would have struck down key Clean Air Act protections by authorizing the President to exempt any industrial facility from complying with air toxics standards for two-year periods. Essentially, the amendment would have given a free pass to coal-burning power plants from EPA’s 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which were put in place due to the well-documented health risks of mercury, arsenic, and the millions of pounds of additional hazardous chemicals. Methylmercury from coal pollution accumulates in fish, poisoning pregnant women and small children. Mercury can harm children’s developing brains, including effects on memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills. Upgrades to the aged and dirty coal plants will also significantly reduce harmful particle pollution, preventing hundreds of thousands of illnesses and up to 17,000 premature deaths each year. “The ‘monetized’ value of these and certain other health benefits would amount to $37–90 billion per year,” the Environmental Protection Agency determined. Republicans are once again trying to protect the dirty energy industry over our children’s health. Result:  FAILED 46-53

(Source:  7 Deadly Amendments That Would’ve Protected Dirty Energy And Trashed The Climate, Climate Progress Blog, 3.24.13)

“Inhofe #359: This amendment would “[prohibit] further greenhouse gas regulations for the purpose of addressing climate change.” This would have prevented the EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act as interpreted by the Supreme Court, which ruled that EPA is required to regulate carbon and other climate change pollutants that endanger public health and welfare. EPA proposed the first carbon pollution standard for new power plants in 2012. After it is finalized, EPA must set limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants — responsible for two-fifths of U.S. carbon pollution. Such reductions are essential to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Result:  FAILED 47-52

(Source:  7 Deadly Amendments That Would’ve Protected Dirty Energy And Trashed The Climate, Climate Progress Blog, 3.24.13)

From Natural Resources Defense Council and Oil Change International:

Hoeven #494: This amendment supported the approval and construction of the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It did not approve the pipeline, nor did it direct the president to approve it. It was instead an attempt to rattle the cage and obtain a vote count on behalf of Big Oil. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline threatens American homes, farms, and ranches with tar sands oil spills. And it threatens all of us by driving the expansion of the giant tar sands reserve and worsening climate change. Ahead of the Senate’s vote, Oil Change International released analysis showing that the ten original co-sponsors of the Hoeven amendment received an average of $807,517 from the fossil fuel industry, 254% more than the average non-sponsoring Senator, for a total of $8 million dollars from the industry based on data from Result: PASSED 62-37

(Sources: Vote NO on Proposed Hoeven Amendment Endorsing Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline, Natural Resources Defense Council Blog, 3.22.13; Senators Supporting KXL Took Nearly $31 Million From Fossil Fuel Industry Before Vote, Oil Change International Press Release, 3.22.13)

To Find Your Senators’ Contact Information:


Call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

But Wait, There’s More:

For more information read this Climate Progress blog: 7 Deadly Amendments That Would’ve Protected Dirty Energy And Trashed The Climate. The blog includes even more descriptions of amendments that didn’t come to a vote but covered important issues such as the wind production tax credit, federal public lands, and the Antiquities Act (passed in 1906).

Additional Resources:

Obama’s Achilles’ Heel On Climate: Senate Democrats, Politico, 3.25.13

Senate Energy And Climate Change Votes Point To EPA As Key Decider, NBC News, 3.25.13

2014 Budget Resolution Climate Amendments Vote Chart, Tuscon Climate Action Network, 3.28.13