CLIMATE:

Democrats quash GOP effort to stymie EPA regs

Senate Democrats last night fended off a pre-election floor fight on a bill to thwart U.S. EPA climate regulations.

Retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) last night tried to bring up for a vote a bill from West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller that would prevent EPA from regulating greenhouse gases from stationary sources for two years. But Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) objected to Bond's request for unanimous consent to begin debate on it.

"It's disappointing that Democrats again blocked bipartisan action to protect the American people from the backdoor national energy tax coming in the form of new job-killing carbon regulations from EPA," Bond said in a statement.

With little time remaining on this year's legislative calendar, Bond said he wanted the measure to be considered before the chamber is expected to recess later this week until after the November elections.

Rockefeller yesterday said he is confident Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will allow a vote on his bill this year but that it will likely occur during a lame-duck session. Reid said in June that he would allow a floor vote on the measure, but his office earlier this month declined to comment on whether he would schedule such a vote.

Rockefeller has six Democratic co-sponsors for his bill and has said he expects he can round up the 60 votes needed for his bill to clear the Senate. Obama administration officials, meanwhile, have said the president would veto the bill if it reached his desk.

"Six Democrats have already stated on the floor they favor this," Bond said last night. "Whatever you think about the cap and tax, I believe there's a strong majority that thinks that the -- a regulatory agent should not establish it bureaucratically."

Bond and other opponents of EPA climate rules have vowed to use all available legislative vehicles to block or delay EPA climate regulations, which are slated to kick in on Jan. 2, 2011.

As lawmakers continue their push to block climate regulations, supporters of EPA rules will rally behind the agency today. A coalition of retired military leaders and veterans will convene in the Capitol to urge senators to oppose proposals to limit EPA's authority, arguing that such measures pose serious threats to national security. More than 100 public health groups -- including the American Medical Association and the American Lung Association -- are also releasing a joint letter urging Congress to let the agency climate rules go forward.