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LONDON, Dec 4 (Reuters) - British lawmakers blocked an amendment to the government's Energy Bill on Wednesday which sought to force old and inefficient coal power stations to comply with new regulations to reduce carbon emissions.
Members of Parliament voted 318 to 236 against including the amendment in the bill, almost exactly a month after the House of Lords (upper house) voted in favour of it.
The amendment would have extended the so-called emissions performance standard (EPS) to cover old and inefficient coal plants, as well as new ones, unless they were fitted with costly carbon capture and storage technology.
The amendment will now go back to the House of Lords to be discussed again and possibly reworked.
Critics say the amendment would have made coal plants uneconomical, forcing more to close around the end of this decade and thereby threatening the country's energy security and raising consumer energy bills.
"In my view, it would add to risks of security of supply and add to the expense of our constituents," Michael Fallon, the UK's minister of state for energy, told parliament.
He added that government calculations showed the early closure of old coal plants would lead domestic bills to increase by around 4 percent and non-domestic bills by 4 to 6 percent.
However, supporters say the move would have delivered rapid and cheap carbon emissions reductions.
Coal power generation rose by 31 percent in 2012 due to cheap supplies and low carbon permit prices, contributing to a 3.5 percent rise in greenhouse gas emissions last year. (Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by Keiron Henderson and David Evans)