EPW BOYCOTT TO DELAY ENERGY REFORM BILL…. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) intends to move on its climate change bill on Tuesday. The legislation, championed by Boxer and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), has drawn some support from Republicans, and would clear the committee easily — Dems enjoy a 12-7 majority on the panel.

So, to scuttle the legislation, committee Republicans have decided not to show up on Tuesday.

Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee will boycott the mark-up of the Kerry-Boxer climate bill if Chairwoman Barbara Boxer tries to take it up next week.

The seven Republican members on the committee met on the Senate floor last night and unanimously agreed to a boycott, according to Republican aides.

Boxer doesn’t need their votes, but she does need at least two of the seven to actually be in the room and establish a quorum. The boycott will make that impossible, at least for now.

The Politico report added that the boycott is “being led by the two most moderate Republican members on the committee: Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.” That seems a little hard to believe — Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the committee, began orchestrating the boycott a week ago.

It’s worth noting that conservative Republicans aren’t the only problem with reforming U.S. energy policy. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), the caucus’ most conservative member, was asked this morning whether a cap-and-trade proposal can garner congressional approval before the end of next year. “No,” he said. “I haven’t been able to sell that argument to my farmers, and I don’t think they’re going to buy it from anybody else.”

A few weeks ago, the prospects of meaningful Senate action on climate change looked pretty good. Today, they look far less encouraging.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.