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Obama defies GOP on climate change with last veto of 2015

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President Obama vetoed two resolutions meant to repeal emission rules at the center of the his climate change agenda. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama used his last major veto of the year to send a message to the GOP: climate change poses a real threat, and he considers regulations to combat it crucial.

Obama on Friday vetoed two GOP-backed resolutions of disapproval. They would have repealed emissions regulations at the center of the president's climate change agenda, including the far-reaching Clean Power Plan.

The White House announced the vetos Saturday, after the president had departed Washington for a two-week holiday vacation. During his last press conference of 2015, Obama called the Republican party a global outlier in its denial of climate change caused by carbon emissions.

Though he did not mention that the vetoes would be coming, they were expected after a White House threat weeks ago.

The resolutions lack the votes required to avoid a presidential veto.

The House and Senate passed the bills before a United Nations climate change conference in Paris earlier this month. Considered by many to be messaging bills, the resolutions aimed to show opposition to the rules and the president's intent to agree to a global plan on emissions reductions.

"Because the resolution would overturn the Clean Power Plan, which is critical to protecting against climate change and ensuring the health and well-being of our Nation, I cannot support it," Obama said in presidential memorada released Saturday.

The Clean Power Plan requires states to lower emissions a third by 2030. Republicans oppose the measure on grounds it will raise energy costs and make the electric grid less reliable. Twenty-seven states, industry and others oppose the plan, which they call overreaching and unconstitutional.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business group, said Sunday that the president's rejection of the resolutions will harm the U.S. economy, while failng to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that most scientists blame for causing global warming.

"The EPA's carbon regulations will irreversibly harm America's power sector and raise the costs for every business and every American that uses electricity," Karen Harbert, president of the group's Institute for 21st Century Energy, said in a statement. "These rules will negatively impact every industry and damage the economy without any significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions."

The group is one of many suing over the rules in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest court in the land before the Supreme Court for opposing federal regulations.

"The president's veto of legislation that would have halted his EPA's regulatory overreach ignores reality in favor of politics, and leaves the legal system as the best remaining course for those of us who are seeking to protect consumers and businesses, at least during the remainder of this administration," Harbert said.