Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

U.S. Senate defeats Murkowski resolution to block EPA from regulating climate pollution

By a vote of fifty three to forty seven, the United States Senate this afternoon rejected a harmful resolution offered by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski that sought to take away the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases, the activity that is causing the climate crisis.

The EPA was granted the ability to do so by the Supreme Court a few years ago, but of course, until the Bush error was over, it did not assert its authority.

Following Barack Obama's inauguration, the EPA issued an endangerment finding and invoked its authority to regulate. The purpose of the Murkowski resolution was to nullify the endangerment finding:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to the endangerment finding and the cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act (published at 74 Fed. Reg. 66496 (December 15, 2009)), and such rule shall have no force or effect.
The resolution's narrow rejection shows just how few votes there are in the Senate for a climate protection bill with any real meaning.

The vote in the Pacific Northwest was split strictly along party lines. Senators Cantwell, Murray, Merkley, Wyden, Begich, Baucus, and Tester were all against the resolution. Senators Crapo, Risch, and Murkowski (obviously) were for it.

Several Democrats defected to support the resolution, which every Republican voted for. They were Blanche Lincoln (surprise, surprise!) Mark Pryor, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Jay Rockefeller, and Evan Bayh.

"I commend the Senate for rejecting the resolution put forward by Senator Murkowski, which would have increased our dependence on oil by blocking efforts to cut the harmful pollution that contributes to climate change," President Barack Obama said in a statement sent to NPI by the White House.

"Today’s vote is yet another reminder of the urgent need to pass legislation that would help America transition to a 21st century clean energy economy that would create jobs, strengthen our national security, and protect our environment for our children. Today, the Senate chose to move America forward, towards that clean energy economy – not backward to the same failed policies that have left our nation increasingly dependent on foreign oil."

In floor remarks prior to the vote on the resolution, Senator Cantwell scolded her Republican and wannabe Republican colleagues for looking backwards, regretfully observing: "We are actually debating whether to overturn the science-based determination that greenhouse gases pose a threat to the public health and welfare to the current and future generations of Americans."

The Clean Air Act, she argued, was designed to be flexible and to protect our skies from any pollutants that might threaten our well being. "The drafters of the Clean Air Act never claimed they could predict all of the pollutants that might someday fall under its jurisdiction," Cantwell noted.

"That is why they established a framework and a public process that could be used to regulate any pollutant that science — science — ultimately identified as a threat to public health and welfare."

"Today, forty years later, we have come to the point where thousands of scientists, working throughout the federal government and around the world over the course of decades, have identified a serious risk associated with the emissions of greenhouse gases. Given the these scientific findings, the legal mandate from the United States Supreme Court, and the statutory requirements spelled out in the Clean Air Act, the EPA has a responsibility to act," she concluded.


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