Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin Really Want to Pollute Your Air, and So Do Some Other Dems

The Senate is spending today voting on Keystone XL amendments.

Mike Lee (R-UT)'s amendment to weaken the Endangered Species Act was a straight party line vote, but as such, it failed to pass (needing 60, not just the 54 it got, for passage).

But, as always, I find votes more interesting when people cross party lines. So let's look at two of those votes today.

Dick Durbin (D-IL) offered an amendment to ensure that the storage and transportation of petroleum coke is regulated in a manner that ensures the protection of public and ecological health.

Back in 2013, he, along with Senators Levin and Stabenow of Michigan and Senator Brown of Ohio, had introduced a bill that would have required a study of petroleum coke (petcoke), which is a byproduct of petroleum refining used in energy production. The legislation was, in part, a response to the public health and environmental concerns raised about three-story high pile of petcoke on the banks of the Detroit River.

But petcoke is also a problem closer to home for Durbin. Later in 2013, he visited a petcoke storage facility in Southeast Chicago.
Senator Durbin visited a community where residents say something needs to be done to protect them from the dust produced from storing the petroleum by-product.
When weather and wind conditions are right, the storage hills of petcoke below produce dust that visits the neighbors.
''Everytime you wipe your house, you could wipe it. Today, tomorrow, all you have is a bunch of black stuff,'' said resident Melody Castillo.
Durbin led a delegation on a visit along the perimeter of the petcoke yards - talking with a nearby resident whose children have asthma - and saying there needs to be stronger regulation of petcoke storage.
''The companies should be warned right here and now, we're not going to quit. As long as these piles are sitting here - blowing this dust into the community causing health problems, then they're in for a fight," Senator Durbin said.
The Senate voted against the amendment 58 to 41.

One Republican—Mark Kirk (R-IL)—voted for it.

Five Democrats voted against it:

Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Jon Tester (D-MT)

Pat Toomey (R-PA) offered an amendment to exempt waste coal power plants from some EPA pollution limits. There are 14 of such plants in Pennsylvania, so Toomey's Democratic colleague Bob Casey was happy to co-sponsor. Waste coal, however, is even dirtier than regular coal.

The amendment failed to achieve the 60 vote threshold for an amendment, dying 54 to 45.

Susan Collins (R-ME) was the only Republican NO vote.

Three Democrats voted for it: Bob Casey (D-PA), Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Donnelly (D-IN). 

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