Democrats’ Walkout Fails to Stop Measure Blocking Climate Rules

(Bloomberg) — Senate Republicans advanced a bill to block
Obama administration regulations curbing greenhouse-gas
emissions, overcoming a walkout by Democrats from a committee
meeting that was considering the measure.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman
James Inhofe corralled Republicans from his committee Wednesday
to meet off the Senate floor, and they approved the bill without
Democratic support. The measure had been introduced by West
Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito.

Inhofe and Capito are leading efforts in Congress to stop
President Barack Obama’s rule that mandates states curb use of
coal and replace it with less carbon-intensive wind, solar and
natural gas power. Republicans warn the rule will send
electricity rates higher and may undercut the reliability of the
electric grid.

While the Obama administration has pledged to veto any of
these bills, Inhofe, who calls global warming a hoax, said he
will continue his fight and seek the Democratic votes to
override a veto.

“You gotta try,” Inhofe told reporters. “Whether we pick
up enough votes to do that, I don’t know.”

During consideration of Capito’s measure, Democrats
introduced amendments about climate change, which the regulation
is aimed at combating. One would have stipulated that the
climate is changing and humans are the main cause. It failed in
a party line vote.

Inhofe objected to the repeated consideration of general
amendments to Capito’s bill.

‘Mixed’ Science

Climate change “is debatable,” Inhofe said. “We’ve had
hearings on this. The science is mixed.”

After a contentious morning of debate on the amendments,
Democrats left the hearing room as Republicans were prepared to
consider an unrelated bill that would allow farmers to spray
pesticides near bodies of water.

California Democrat Barbara Boxer said the bill hadn’t been
vetted enough to warrant a committee vote. Republicans later
convened and approved the Capito bill by voice vote.

The power plant rules aim for a 32 percent reduction in
carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 2030 from 2005
levels. To meet the target, it gives states credit for solar or
wind projects that break ground in the next few years. It will
require utilities to run natural-gas plants more or encourage
customers to use less electricity.

In a separate action, West Virginia and 15 other states
Wednesday filed a petition with the Environmental Protection
Agency asking for a delay in implementing the rule, pending the
outcome of any legal challenges.

Without a stay, states will have to “expend enormous
public resources” to prepare to comply with the rule, West
Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Laura Curtis in Washington at
lcurtis7@bloomberg.net;
Mark Drajem in Washington at
mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at
jmorgan97@bloomberg.net
Steve Geimann, Jodi Schneider

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