Senate Considers, Rejects EPA Limits

By Libby Casey

After a lengthy debate today, the U-S Senate has rejected Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gasses. 

Murkowski argued that Congress, not the E-P-A should set standards for carbon dioxide emissions.  Some Republicans today scoffed at science that says greenhouse gasses are contributing to climate change.  But Murkowski said that’s not the issue, rather it’s a matter of whether the federal branch or Congress should make the rules.

This is not a debate about the science.  And science has been discussed a lot here.  This is about how we respond to the science.  We’re not here to decide whether greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced.  We’re here to decide if we’re going to allow them to reduce, be reduced, under the strictures, the structures of the Clean Air Act.

The vote was 47 in favor,  53 opposed.   The rarely used “disapproval resolution” needed 51 votes to move forward.

For the most part Republicans supported her, and Democrats were in opposition.  One Democrat who was in her camp is Jay Rockefeller, from the coal-rich state of West Virginia:

I believe we must send a strong and urgent message that the fate of our economy, our manufacturing industry, our workers, including our coal workers, should never be placed solely in the hands of the federal environmental Protection Agency.

Rockefeller has his own resolution that doesn’t go as far as Murkowski’s.  It would suspend E-P-A Action for two years.

Other Democrats say now is not the time to loosen regulations on industry.  Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says it was the courts that told the E-P-A to step up to the plate.

This has been all the way to the supreme court.  And it is established law that the Clean Air Act applies.  So why are we debating this?  Because the big polluters, the same industry that brought you the April 5 mine disaster in West Virginia, that brought you the explosion n the rig in the Gulf of Mexico like things the way they are.  They like the status quo.

Lisa Murkowski’s call for Congress, not the E-P-A, to set greenhouse gas limits has been met with agreement on both sides of the aisle.  But Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said that should come as part of a larger climate change bill.  And he chided Republicans who are now calling for action, but aren’t moving forward on broader legislation.

This is going to be the great hypocrisy test resolution.  We’re going to see how many of these folks who were here on the floor saying ‘we need to leave it to Congress,’ how many of them are going to show up to do what we need to do to change things.  How many of them are going to be on the front lines trying to in fact make the things happen that need to happen in order to restrain greenhouse gasses.

The White House said earlier this week that if the resolution were pass, the President would likely veto it.


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