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Senate Strikes Down Climate Change Control Bill on Economic Grounds

By Jeff Nesmith

Cox News Service -- WASHINGTON

The Senate held Congress’s first vote on regulating the causes of global warming Thursday and turned the idea down, 55-43.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the vote on a bill to control emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide were only the beginning of an extended campaign.

“I want to assure my colleagues that we will be back,” McCain said. “We have to begin to address this issue.”

McCain co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, a Democratic presidential candidate.

“Today we scored an important moral victory for protecting our environment and combating global warming,” Lieberman said. “President Bush has denied, delayed and derailed any action on global warming.”

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) described opponents’ chief argument when he called the legislation a “jobs bill for Mexico” and said it would cause 178,000 manufacturing jobs to leave Ohio.

“I can hear the giant sucking sound of jobs leaving our country every time I go home to Ohio,” Voinovich said.

“This bill would mean the end of manufacturing jobs in my state,” Voinovich added. “It will exacerbate the loss of jobs in my state and drive up the cost of energy.”

McCain and five other Republicans voted for the bill, along with independent James Jeffords of Vermont and 37 Democrats. Two senators, Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards of North Carolina, did not vote.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) recalled looking back at the Earth from the space shuttle during the mission he flew as a House member in 1986. He described the planet as a “beautiful blue and white ball, suspended in nothing.”

“It is so beautiful, yet so fragile,” Nelson said, adding that one expected impact of climate change, sea level rise, would “have a devastating effect on my state of Florida.”

Environmental groups declared that 43 votes for the bill was better than they had hoped, even though McCain and Lieberman had rewritten their original bill to make it less demanding.

The bill voted on Thursday would have required industrial plants to cut pollution from burning fossil fuels to 2000 levels by 2010. It would have set a national cap on greenhouse gas emissions and allowed companies to trade “pollution rights.”

“Although the bill did not pass, the strong show of support from lawmakers from every region of the nation exceeded our expectations,” said Jeremy Symons of the National Wildlife Federation.

Fred Krupp, president of the activist organization Environmental Defense, called the vote a “big repudiation of the president.”