Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Senate climate battle begins with two bills

Dueling bills to block federal climate change rules landed in the Senate Monday, signaling interest by conservative Republicans and centrist Democrats in curtailing the Environmental Protection Agency. But it’s not clear whether the presence of two measures creates political momentum for halting greenhouse gas regulations, or instead reveals divides among EPA foes that can’t be bridged. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who is a member of the GOP leadership team, introduced a sweeping bill with several Republican colleagues that would completely upend the ability of federal agencies to regulate emissions or consider climate change when implementing various environmental statutes. (It would, however, allow current tailpipe standards to remain in place.) Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced a less aggressive bill with several centrist Democrats that would delay EPA’s rules for stationary emissions sources like power plants and refineries for two years. Frank O’Donnell, head of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, worries that the sweeping Republican bill could create a political opening for Rockefeller’s measure, a bill he said would set a bad precedent by suspending enforcement of clean air protections...more

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