A Senate resolution to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases failed narrowly Thursday, providing a temporary respite to environmental activists hoping to enact a mandatory cap on emissions before the end of the year.
But the 47 to 53 vote showed that even in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Congress remains divided over how best to address climate change. The contentious debate, in which some lawmakers suggested federal regulation would strike a devastating blow to the economy, suggested the Senate is far from decided on whether to put a price on the industrial emissions that stem from everyday activities such as lighting a home or driving a car.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who drafted the resolution that would have barred the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, said the central question was whether Congress or the administration would set the rules for curbing carbon dioxide. EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson has already proposed rules that would subject large greenhouse gas emitters — such as coal-fired utilities and oil refineries — to federal regulation starting next year.