Debate on the Ratepayer Protection Act is well underway. It won't last long--it's a "Structured" rule that allows only 7 amendments--and a vote is expected later this afternoon. (Editor's note: the bill passed late in the afternoon 247-180.)

Recall, this bill is high visibility. It pits, generally speaking, forces that are anti-EPA vs. those that are pro-EPA, meaning most Democrats who want to support the administration on this. Speaking of, the White House has threatened to veto the bill--see below. Of course, it has to pass the Senate first, something unlikely at this point.

The vote should not be a surprise: the bill should pass, but by what margin and with how many Democrats? It didn't help supporters when Rep. Gene Green of TX, a leading moderate-to-conservative Dem who often votes with the GOP in committee and the floor, voiced his opposition to the bill earlier today. But two procedural votes a little while ago went as expected, with clear GOP margins and only one Democrat voting with the Republicans both times. 

Energy subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield of KY, lead sponsor of the bill and today's floor manager, claimed his bill is flexible and not devastating to EPA aims to lower carbon emissions; besides, it's more flexible and less draconian that the Senate's bill by Sen. Capito, which would stop the EPA Clean Power Plan in its tracks. But this didn't sway even minority committee members like Rep. Kathy Castor of FL, who called the RPA a "just say no" bill where "grandchildren will suffer the consequences of climate change," and this will "prove very costly." States will get "a free pass to meet the challenges of climate change," she said, if this bill passes. And that will be very expensive for states like Florida, where "rising property insurances rates, flood insurance rates" will occur. States are already facing "tornadoes, drought, fires, and extreme heat...taxes are going up" she said, and in Florida there is already "saltwater intrusions because of rising tides."

But Castor's colleague, GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis, another member of the energy panel, immediately stood up. The bill provides "safeguards against EPA's overreach," he said, claiming the CPP imposes "heavier burdens" on the states, including FL, which has already reduced carbon emissions by 20 percent since 2005. The CPP could lead to reliability problems and "ballooning costs--and we cannot afford it." Let's focus on an "all of the above energy strategy" he said, which allows each state to implement their plans as they see fit. Thirty-two states have voiced legal objections to the rule, he said; 34 states decry "rushed timelines." He thanked colleagues on the Democratic side for their bipartisan work on the bill.

Only a few amendments are allowed under the Rule--3 by the Democrats, 2 GOP, and one bipartisan. They include a couple of hydro provisions, a Dem amendment that calls for each state's PUC to perform analysis on state plans, and a Pallone measure that is aimed at states that opt-out of the CPP to certify that electricity generating units are sources of carbon pollution that lead to climate change. It is not expected to pass.