Senate rejects GOP bid to thwart federal climate rules

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who also faces reelection next year, was the lone Republican to vote with most Democrats to uphold federal authority to regulate carbon emissions.

Earlier in the “vote-a-rama” on the budget, lawmakers spurned the idea of legislation to authorize fees on carbon emissions.

Taken together, the votes against carbon fees and against blocking EPA regulation underscore that executive-level actions will be the focal point of battles over climate change during Obama’s second term.

The failure of Inhofe's amendment arrives five weeks after Obama, in his State of the Union address, vowed more aggressive steps on climate using executive power if Congress remains gridlocked on major bills to confront global warming.

A year ago EPA floated draft rules to set carbon emissions standards for new power plants, but it’s not clear when they will be completed.

Obama is under heavy pressure from green groups to take what they say would be a much more significant step: Setting emissions rules for existing coal-fired power plants, a major source of greenhouse gases.

Obama has not laid out a detailed plan on climate.