Senate committee delays vote on Clear Skies

In what clean-air advocates called a “major victory for the environment,” the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday postponed a decision on Bush’s Clear Skies Act. A vote had been scheduled to determine whether the bill would advance to the Senate floor, but with 18 committee members deadlocked on the legislation, Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.) decided not to risk a bill kill and instead set a new date for a vote: March 2. Inhofe said the committee just needs to “spend some quality time together” to discuss revisions — such as moving the 2018 deadline for compliance up two years and adding some $650 million in subsidies for coal-burning utilities — so that they can “determine if there is middle ground.” Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who was targeted by bill supporters as a possible swing voter, isn’t convinced the extra time will change anything: “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to reach a compromise,” he said.