SENATE DEMOCRATS TO RATCHET UP DEFENSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIONS

BoxerPhotoAndrewHarrerBloomberg

The Senate climate change caucus formed, in part, to defend President Obama's climate plan, and efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will offer some insights into its strategy next week, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 4.

Formed in January by Boxer and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the 20-plus members of the Senate Climate Action Task Force are preparing for attacks on Environmental Protection Agency rules on at least two fronts: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to use fast-track procedures under the Congressional Review Act to kill the EPA rules, and Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) has introduced a bill (S. 1905) to curtail the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Boxer said the caucus will discuss “a couple of actions” at its next meeting slated for Feb. 6, including a new “action web page” and other tools they will use to rally support for the EPA rules and other climate actions outlined by Obama in June.

“We will have an announcement next week for two actions we are planning,” Boxer said, although she declined to provide more details.

Obama in his Jan. 28 State of the Union address called for “more urgency” on climate change and vowed to push ahead with the EPA power plant rules, which he wants finalized by the end of his second term.

House Republicans Advance Bill

In the House, Republicans have already moved legislation (H.R. 3826) identical to Manchin's bill to restrict the EPA's ability to move forward on the power plant emissions rules. Introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), the bill was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Jan. 28.

Senate Democrats announced the formation of their new caucus Jan. 14, which they also hope will lay the groundwork for resurrecting broad climate legislation that collapsed in the Senate in 2010.

The caucus joins some of the newest members of the Senate—such as Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)—with committee leaders such as Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Boxer, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee.

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