- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Over the protests of boycotting Democrats, a Senate GOP-controlled panel Wednesday approved legislation designed to block the Obama administration from implementing tough new standards on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Democrats had walked out of an earlier meeting, initially denying Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the quorum he needed to hold the vote.

So Inhofe reconvened the meeting in a room just off the Senate floor, with the aroma of a just-completed GOP lunch still wafting in the air.

Top Environment and Public Works Committee Democrat Barbara Boxer of California said she and her Democratic colleagues were happy to vote on the power plant legislation but walked out in protest of a separate bill to loosen rules on pesticide spraying over navigable waters, which she said should have been the subject of a fact-finding hearing.

Both bills were approved by voice vote in the lunchroom meeting.

The votes advance the legislation to the Senate floor, where filibusters await - if GOP leaders ever seek to try to advance them. A veto promise from President Barack Obama on the power plant legislation is assured.

That legislation, by coal state Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., would place several obstacles before the new greenhouse gas rule - which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by nearly one-third by 2030 when compared to 2005 levels - can take effect.

The administration released the rule on Monday after several years of development. Obama touts it for reducing carbon emissions that scientists credit with increased global temperatures that have led to higher sea levels and, some say, more violent storms.

The rule faces legal challenges from 15 states but is aimed at boosting the generation of electricity from “clean” sources while reducing dependence on coal as a source. It requires states to submit plans to the Environmental Protection Agency next year to meet carbon-reducing goals set by the government.

Wednesday’s legislation would delay the rule until after new technologies are proven and its legality is tested by the courts. Governors would be able to opt out of the rules and not fear a loss of their state’s federal highway dollars if they do so.

Boxer said the pesticide bill should have been given a hearing before a vote.


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