WASHINGTON A bill to stop the Environmental Protection Agency's greenhouse gas rules passed a first step in the Republican-led House of Representatives on Thursday.
The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee passed the bill by voice vote that would block the EPA from regulating big carbon dioxide polluters such as oil refineries and power plants. The measure will next be sent to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.
It faces an uphill battle as officials in the Obama administration have said the president would veto the measure.
Fred Upton, the chairman of the committee and the bill's sponsor, said the EPA rules would raise gasoline prices by adding costs to refineries that they would pass to consumers.
"This committee is working hard to ease the economic pains of rising gas prices. This bill is the first step," Upton said.
Democrats on the panel said Upton's gasoline price rise scenario was based on a two-year old study of the failed climate bill, not the EPA regulations.
"Just because it's politically convenient to evoke peoples' fears over rising gasoline prices doesn't mean it's responsible
to pull out a study from over two years ago on an entirely different proposal," said Representative Mike Doyle, who opposed the bill.
The Senate has a similar bill sponsored by climate skeptic Senator James Inhofe, a Republican. He hopes to pick Democratic senators from states with heavily energy-dependent economies. At least one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin, from West Virginia, has signed on.
But several Democrats in the Senate blasted the bill. "I will do everything in my power to stop attacks on the Clean Air Act that threatens the health of our families," said Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Environmentalists also opposed the legislation. "This bill ignores the vast body of scientific evidence that carbon emissions are leading to climate change and harming public health," said Lexi Shultz, legislative director of climate and energy at Union of Concerned Scientists.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)