WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said on Wednesday that there was barely any support in that chamber for passing cap and trade legislation that aims to control global warming.
“I would say there is minimal enthusiasm, and that’s putting it mildly, for cap and trade,” McConnell said when asked by a reporter whether the initiative was dead for this year.
Under cap and trade, which was passed by the House of Representatives last June, lower and lower limits would be put on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the next 40 years.
Companies would be required to hold permits for each ton of carbon they emit and those permits could be traded in a regulated market.
The House-passed legislation has hit stiff opposition in the Senate and the election of a Republican in Massachusetts on Tuesday to replace deceased Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy made prospects somewhat more difficult for cap and trade.
Senator Lisa Murkowski said she might not seek passage of an amendment on Wednesday that would stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions for the first time.
Instead, the Alaska Republican said her “inclination” was to pursue a slightly different legislative route — passage of a “joint resolution” in the Senate and House — that would have the same impact but would face different procedural rules.
Murkowski did not say when she would go ahead with the joint resolution, if she settles on that route.
Murkowski argues that the EPA must be stopped from regulating carbon and that legislation instead should be crafted to address environmental concerns.
But many Democrats and environmental groups have said that Murkowski is trying to push a vote on EPA regulation in order to undermine progress on a climate change bill.
The Obama administration has been using the threat of EPA regulation to try to encourage some lawmakers to get behind legislation that would be more comprehensive and give industry more opportunity to have a say in environmental policy.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Editing by Howard Goller)
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