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Report: Senators voting against EPA rules received more coal industry cash

Analysis by Maplight researchers finds senators who voted against EPA rules received 17 times more coal industry money

Legislators opposing new Environmental Protection Agency efforts to mitigate climate change have received large sums of cash from the coal industry, according to an analysis released Thursday by Maplight, an independent research group that tracks the influence of money in politics.

Maplight's analysis compared coal industry donations to two groups of senators: those who recently voted to block new EPA regulations designed to limit greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, and those who voted to leave the rules intact. 

The group of senators who opposed the EPA rules “received, on average, 17 times as much money ($75,802) from the coal mining industry compared to senators voting against them ($4,464)” over the six year period beginning in April 2009 and ending in March of this year, Maplight said in a statement.

EPA rules mandate that states cut power-plant emissions by 32 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by the year 2030. The agency also intends to freeze construction of U.S. coal plants.

The Senate on Tuesday approved the two GOP-sponsored resolutions rendering the new power-plant rules inoperative. The measures were both passed 52-46 under the little-used Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to use simple majority votes to block executive actions it considers onerous. The maneuver is subject to a presidential veto and has rarely been successful in overturning executive branch rules.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is considering similar resolutions filed by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.

The White House has threatened to veto the resolutions, saying they undermine public health protections of the Clean Air Act and “stop critical U.S. efforts to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.”

Among the senators who voted for both resolutions blocking the EPA rules, Maplight said it had found 13 to whom the coal industry donated more than $100,000 over a six-year period.

The vote against the resolutions comes ahead of a global climate summit set to begin at the end of this month in Paris.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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