Murkowski’s Assault on the Clean Air Act Fails
by Nathan Empsall, Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 10:39:02 PM EDT
The BP spill has stolen most of the environmental limelight this month, but the green movement went into hyperdrive this week to defend the Clean Air Act – and succeeded. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s disapproval resolution, written by big oil lobbyists and nicknamed “the Dirty Air Act,” would have prevented the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act. It failed today on a vote of 47-53.
Additional good news: The fact that coal state senators like Bob Casey, Robert Byrd, and Debbie Stabenow and oil state Senators like Mark Begich and Bill Nelson voted against this resolution bodes well for the prospects of future climate and energy legislation.
The vote was pretty poorly timed for Murkowski, coming at a time when most Americans want BP to pay more for its criminal negligence, not less. I’ve received at least 8 e-mails in the last 2 days from environmental groups like the Sierra Club, VoteVets, and Repower America with subjects like “Stop the Big Oil Bailout,” “One Day Left to Stop Big Oil,” “Protect the Clean Air Act,” and “Murkowski’s Last Stand.”
The eventual climate bill considered by the Senate will likely contain language similar to the Murkowski resolution, but at least it will be tied to new regulations. To ban the EPA from addressing climate change without tying it to such legislation first would cause irreparable harm to the planet. This is so painfully obvious that Murkowski couldn’t even recruit her fellow Alaska Senator to join her. "It is time for Congress to face up to this serious issue, not stick our heads in the sand and deny the irrefutable science," said Mark Begich (D-AK). EPA administrator Lisa Jackson agreed, writing for the Huffington Post earlier this week:
The fact that a single accident at a single offshore oil well can cause billions of dollars in damage, result in thousands of people losing their jobs and livelihoods and threaten an entire region highlights how important it is that we keep moving America forward, towards energy independence. We can't afford to go back.
That is why it is surprising to learn that on June 10, the Senate will vote on legislation that would take us back to the same old failed policies and increase America's oil dependence by billions of barrels. Senator Lisa Murkowski, with strong support from big oil companies and their lobbyists, has proposed a resolution that would drastically weaken our nation's historic effort to increase fuel savings, save consumers money and cut oil consumption from American cars and trucks.
Senator Murkowski's resolution would take away EPA's ability to protect the health and welfare of Americans from greenhouse gas pollution. The resolution would ignore and override scientific findings and allow big oil companies, big refineries and others to continue to pollute without any oversight or consequence. It would also gut EPA's authority in the clean cars program, a program that would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut down on air pollution.
No Republican opposed the resolution – even so-called “moderates” like Collins, Snowe, and Brown sided against the Clean Air Act. Six Democrats joined them, including Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, and Jay Rockefeller.