Dems defeat effort to rein in EPA on global warming 

Senate Democrats blocked a bipartisan resolution to block the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing new global warming regulations.

The 47-53 vote clears the way for the EPA to proceed with its plan to reduce the nation's carbon dioxide emissions. Six Democrats voted in favor of the resolution, most of them from states dependent on coal for jobs and electricity.

The debate took place as top Senate Democratic leaders met behind closed doors in an effort to come up with a new plan on energy and climate change.

No agreement was reached, and Democrats are now hoping that the EPA's looming regulations will motivate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to quickly come up with a plan of their own that can win over enough votes to prevent a filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told The Washington Examiner the vote to reject the resolution will help the Senate come up with an climate bill that can pass.

"It argues that some people want some rules and regulations," Reid said.

While Democrats left the meeting without a game plan, it was clear, said meeting participants, that an energy and global warming bill sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass. and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., lacks the 60 votes needed to get past GOP opposition.

Sen. Jay Rockerfeller, D-W.Va., who voted in favor of the resolution, said "most" in the meeting felt the existing plan could not move forward because of opposition to proposed limits on carbon emissions.

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told The Examiner that the Senate "Is likely to consider legislation much different than the House," which passed a bill that would create global warming fees for companies nearly a year ago.

Thursday's vote struck down a resolution sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that would have negated a December EPA ruling that classifies greenhouse gases as pollutants on the grounds that they will eventually cause the planet's temperature to rise.

The six-hour floor debate turned into a proxy fight over climate change legislation and the science behind it, with Republicans and a handful of Democrats arguing that EPA regulations would kill jobs, raise electricity prices and hurt agriculture and manufacturing.

"The cost to Nebraska, I believe, will be substantial," said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who voted for the resolution, he said, because new EPA regulations would raise electricity prices and make it more difficult for his state's soybean farmers to compete with unregulated countries.

The debate also centered around which branch of government should be writing energy regulations.

"This resolution is about the separation of powers," said Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho. "This is a major policy decision that will affect every single American. It has a profound effect on the economy and a profound effect on jobs overseas and these are things that should be debated and should be decided by elected persons, not the EPA."

Lieberman opposed the resolution, calling it "an attempt to impose a political judgment on a scientific judgment and that is wrong."

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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