UPDATE 2-U.S. Senate rejects measure to stop EPA on climate

Wed Apr 6, 2011 7:39pm EDT

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By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON, April 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate rejected a measure on Wednesday to kill Environmental Protection Agency regulations of emissions blamed for warming the planet, handing a victory to President Barack Obama.

The EPA's rules to fight emissions, which it began rolling out early this year, are one of Obama's top strategies to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, generate more alternative energy and protect the health of old and young people.

Republicans had hoped to pick up more support from Democrats in energy-dependent states facing tight elections next year on the measure sponsored by Republican leader Mitch McConnell. It got only 50 votes in the Democratic-led 100-member chamber, short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Senate "rejected an approach that would have increased the nation's dependence on oil, contradicted the scientific consensus on global warming, and jeopardized America's ability to lead the world in the clean energy economy."

The Senate also rejected three other amendments sponsored by Democrats to limit the EPA, including one by Jay Rockefeller, from coal-rich West Virginia, which would have delayed the agency from regulating the gases for two years.

Republicans and some Democrats who wanted to stop the EPA regulations said the rules on emissions from big polluters like oil refineries and power plants would hurt businesses as they struggle to recover from the economic downturn.

The Senate failed last year to pass a comprehensive bill on climate and energy.

Later this year, the EPA is expected to propose emissions limits on oil refineries and power plants that it expects to finalize next year.

Analysts said congressional efforts to stop the EPA could come up later this year, perhaps during debates over next year's budget.

The Republican-led House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on Thursday on a separate bill that would permanently stop the EPA from regulating the gases. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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