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White House threatens greenhouse gas bill veto

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The White House Tuesday cited the specter of the Gulf oil spill as it threatened a presidential veto of a Republican bid to block the government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Officials said that the bill, designed to crimp the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would prevent the implementation of 2007 decision by the US Supreme Court, requiring the government to decide whether carbon dioxide gas emissions pose a threat to human health.

The White House said the legislation, expected to face a vote in the Senate on Thursday, would also block a government program promoting new fuel economy standards and cutting oil consumption.

“It would also undermine the administration’s efforts to reduce the negative impacts of pollution and the risks associated with environmental catastrophes, like the ongoing BP oil spill,” the administration said in a statement.

“As seen in the Gulf of Mexico, environmental disasters harm families, destroy jobs, and pollute the nation’s air, land and water,” the statement said. “If the President is presented with this Resolution of Disapproval, which would seriously disrupt EPA’s ability to address the threat of (greenhouse gas) pollution… his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the Resolution.”

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is sponsoring the bill, said that the effort was needed to decide “whether or not Congress or unelected bureaucrats, at the EPA, should set climate policy for this country.” “The overreach we see by the EPA is truly unprecedented in terms of overreach into the legislative branch by the executive,” she said. “The EPA intends to take control of climate policy and take it away from the Congress. This is absolutely unacceptable.”

Republicans say that efforts by the government to impose new regulations to control greenhouse gas emissions would hamper big business and severely harm the economy as it recovers from the worst economic crisis on record.

Obama is pushing Democrats in Congress to use the Gulf oil disaster, which he says shows the folly of over-reliance on fossil fuels, to launch a new bid to pass climate change legislation that is mired in the Senate.

Jim Manley, spokesman for Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, said that Republican backing for the amendment amounted to a giveaway to big oil firms, at a time of national crisis spawned by the Gulf disaster.

“This giveaway, otherwise known as the Murkowski disapproval resolution, is backed by oil company lobbyists because it would increase the nation’s consumption of oil by at least 455 million barrels, and probably waste several billion more,” he said. “With Republicans standing up for Wall Street, health insurance companies and now big oil companies, this begs the question — is there any special interest Republicans will not protect?”

Washington, June 8, 2010 (AFP)