Environmental groups fight for EPA rules after climate bill meltdown in Senate

Environmental groups are plotting their political strategy for protecting EPA’s power to impose greenhouse gas curbs, a campaign that has become more urgent following the Senate’s abandonment of climate change legislation.

Their big fear: Senate action on Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) plan that would block EPA regulation of coal-fired power plants and other stationary industrial sources for two years. 

EPA plans to begin regulating heat-trapping emissions from large sources beginning in January and will slowly phase the requirements in from there.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s Bill Snape said green groups that locked horns over the shape of climate legislation — his group called the main Capitol Hill plans weak and stuffed with industry giveaways — are unified on protecting EPA rules.

“The entire [environmental] community, which has had its disagreements, would be entirely unified in beating the hell out of that,” said Snape, the group’s senior counsel, of Rockefeller’s plan. “There is definitely a flurry of activity.”

“We are all talking, we are all strategizing,” he said.

Rockefeller’s plans for pushing his bill — which is co-sponsored by six centrist Democrats — remain unclear. 

Democratic leaders offered a vote this year on his plan when they were fighting off Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) more sweeping measure to kill all EPA climate regulation. Her proposal failed in June.

But it’s not clear where Rockefeller’s plan stands now that Democratic leaders have dropped climate legislation for the summer and likely for the year.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday he was unsure whether there would be a vote on Rockefeller’s measure.