U.S. Senate Environment Committee Approves Climate Change Bill and Overpowers Republicans Boycott

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (UPI) — The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a climate bill Thursday even as Republican committee members boycotted the meeting.

Democrats voted 11-1 to pass the bill, with Sen. Max Baucus of Montana the lone “no” vote, The Hill reported.

Republicans had been boycotting the committee meetings to protest the measure’s markup, saying they wanted the Environmental Protection Agency to perform a second cost analysis of the bill.

The Senate bill, co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, the environment committee chairwoman, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Another provision would require companies to have permits to cover their emissions.

Boxer defended the decision to vote on the measure without Republican participation.

“The committee and Senate rules that have been in place during Republican and Democratic majorities are there to be used when the majority feels it is in the best interest of their states and of the nation to act,” she said in a statement. “A majority of the committee believes that S. 1733, and the efforts that will be built upon it, will move us away from foreign oil imports that cost Americans one billion dollars a day, it will protect our children from pollution, create millions of clean-energy jobs, and stimulate billions of dollars of private investment.”

David McIntosh, associate administrator for EPA’s office of congressional and intergovernmental relations, told the panel Tuesday a study such as the Republicans want would cost $135,000 and take 1,600 man-hours to finish, the Post reported. McIntosh said the analysis would not yield significantly different results from the one the agency already completed.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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