The NY Times has an editorial today worth re-posting, as it takes Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski to task over her amendment tomorrow which will try to gut the Clear Air Act and prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
Senator Lisa Murkowski’s home state of Alaska is ever so slowly melting away, courtesy of a warming planet. Yet few elected officials seem more determined than she to throw sand in the Obama administration’s efforts to do something about climate change.
As part of an agreement that allowed the Senate to get out of town before Christmas, Democratic leaders gave Ms. Murkowski and several other Republicans the chance to offer amendments to a must-pass bill lifting the debt ceiling. Voting on that bill begins this week. Although she has not showed her hand, Ms. Murkowski has been considering various proposals related to climate change — all mischievous.
One would block for one year any effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. This would prevent the administration from finalizing its new and much-needed standards for cars and light trucks and prevent it from regulating greenhouse gases from stationary sources.
Ms. Murkowski also is mulling a “resolution of disapproval” that would ask the Senate to overturn the E.P.A.’s recent “endangerment finding” that carbon dioxide and other global warming gases threaten human health and the environment. This finding flowed from a 2007 Supreme Court decision and is an essential precondition to any regulation governing greenhouse gases. Rescinding the finding would repudiate years of work by America’s scientists and public health experts.
Ms. Murkowski says she’s concerned about global warming but worries even more about what she fears would be a bureaucratic nightmare if the E.P.A. were allowed to regulate greenhouse gases. She says she would prefer a broad legislative solution. So would President Obama. But unlike Ms. Murkowski, he would not unilaterally disarm the E.P.A. before Congress has passed a bill.
Judging by the latest and daffiest idea to waft from Ms. Murkowski’s office, she may not want a bill at all. Last fall, the Senate environment committee approved a cap-and-trade scheme that seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions by putting a price on them. The Democratic leadership’s plan is to combine the bill with other energy-related measures to broaden the base of support; by itself, it cannot pass.
Knowing that the bill is not ripe, Ms. Murkowski may bring it up for a vote anyway as an amendment to the debt bill. Why? To shoot it down. The tactic would give us a “barometric reading” of where the Senate stands on cap-and-trade, one Murkowski staffer said recently. What it really gives us is a reading on how little the senator — or for that matter, her party — has to offer.