Repower America has teamed up with some celebrities and activists to make a video about why we need to preserve the Clean Air Act and its ability to set new emissions standards for dirty coal plants.
September 16, 2010
June 24, 2010
The Diamondback has been slow about posting its opinion columns this summer, so my column out today isn’t online or linkable. However, two weeks ago I wrote an op-ed column on the need to protect the Clean Air Act, which was under attack from Republicans and coal/oil state Democrats. Ultimately, the attempt to gut the portion of the Clean Air Act that allows EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions failed. However, this debate is still relevant since there is the possibility there will eventually be a vote on a weaker resolution of disapproval being pushed by WV Senator Jay Rockefeller which would delay EPA action for 2 years. Below is my column from two weeks ago, which I timed with the Senate vote on the resolution.
Clean Air Act: Protecting the green initiative
By Matt Dernoga
Today, the Senate is going to vote on whether or not to gut the Clean Air Act. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska) is introducing what’s called a Resolution of Disapproval, titled S.J. Res 26, which would block the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from our largest and dirtiest coal plants. S.J. Res 26 would also block the Obama administration’s move last year to mandate new fuel economy standards of 35.5 miles per gallon for new cars and trucks by 2016, as well as recent moves to develop new standards for medium and heavy duty trucks.
The basis for new standards is the administration’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. They would save the U.S. over 1.8 billion barrels of oil over their lifespan, an average of $3,000 for someone who buys a car in 2016, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 900 million metric tons. The truck rule is also estimated to save truckers and consumers $24 billion dollars in the year 2030 and create about 120,000 jobs nationwide. These facts are why both the automobile and truck industries have applauded and stood behind these standards. S.J. Res 26 would erase this.
Ironically, one of the biggest losers in this would be Murkowski’s home state of Alaska, notoriously one of the states most impacted from rising temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions. The state is literally burning to a crisp as warming temperatures, drier air and millions of acres of dead forest cause unprecedented wildfires.
The grim reaper for the forest comes in the form of a tiny bark beetle that’s migrating further north because of milder winters, and reproducing faster during warmer summers at the same time. All the new dead wood is like throwing a gigantic log into an out of control fireplace.
Murkowski has even acknowledged these impacts, saying in a speech a few years ago: “Native whaling captains tell me that the ice pack is less stable, and that there is more open water requiring them to travel greater distances to hunt. The snowpack is coming later and melting earlier than in years past. Salmon are showing up in subsistence nets in greater numbers across the arctic. Different types of vegetation now grow where they never grew before. The migratory patterns of animals have changed. Warmer, drier air has allowed the voracious spruce bark beetle to migrate north, moving through our forests in the south-central part of the state. At last count, over three million acres of forest land has been devastated by the beetle, providing dry fuel for outbreaks of enormous wild fires. To give you some perspective, that is almost the size of Connecticut. Times have changed and we need a new Arctic policy.”
Taking away the ability of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act would be a profit windfall for the oil companies, an early Christmas present for big coal and a collective head-in-the-sand headstand by Senate on the need for the U.S. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also a terrible Arctic policy, Senator Murkowski.
Contact your Senator. Tell them to protect the Clean Air Act, and vote no on S.J. Res 26.
Matt Dernoga graduated in May with a degree in government and politics. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com.
June 11, 2010
Kudos to Bernie Sanders for telling it like it is in the run up to the failed vote for gutting the Clean Air Act
June 10, 2010
Murkowski’s amendment to gut the Clean Air Act has been defeated, although the vote was closer than it should have been.
The vote was 47-53
The Democrats who voted in favor were Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Jay Rockefeller, Evan Bayh, Mark Pryor, and Ben Nelson
All Republicans voted for it
June 9, 2010
It’s good to see Obama’s grassroots group mobilizing some support for the defeat of Lisa Murkoski’s resolution to gut the Clean Air Act. Below is the e-mail sent to me by them that makes a good case for protecting the act.
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, with strong support from the big oil companies, has introduced a resolution that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas pollution — and dismantle the bipartisan Clean Air Act.
If her measure becomes law, the effects would be immediate. Nearly every step President Obama has taken to promote clean energy would be repealed. It would wreak havoc on the President’s landmark clean vehicle standards that ensure cars go farther on a gallon of gas, and it would block requirements that force large power plants and factories to use new technology and clean energy to reduce their pollution.
This resolution is a giant step backward. As it is, other nations are already taking the lead in transitioning to clean energy economies that create the jobs of the future. Now Sen. Murkowski and her Republican allies, who have taken millions from big oil companies and other polluters, want to lock us in the past.
Lobbyists representing big business and dirty energy are pressing senators to support Sen. Murkowski. It’s time lawmakers hear from citizens who support combating climate change.
Will you write your senators today? Let them know that you strongly oppose Sen. Murkowski’s resolution, and that they have your thanks if they oppose it too.
Sen. Murkowski has filed her resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the authority to overturn the actions of an executive branch agency. Under the law, resolutions only require 51 votes to pass.
The vote is scheduled for Thursday, and there’s no time to wait. Senators need to hear from you.
Write your lawmakers now:
Organizing for America
Here is a video from 1Sky explain what’s at stake on Thursday with Lisa Murkowski’s resolution of disapproval to gut the Clean Air Act. You can also check out their page for making calls to your Senators to tell them to vote no.
April 6, 2010
There was a solid Newsweek article a few days ago about whether Lisa Jackson and the Obama Administration has it in them to move forward and regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act if Congress doesn’t seriously act. The big question is whether the Obama Administration has the guts to go for it. I want to excerpt a few pieces from it.
“But if that conciliatory approach doesn’t work, Obama can count on Jackson as his climate enforcer. Unless Congress acts by next January, Jackson says, the EPA will use its authority under America’s Clean Air Act to phase in new restrictions on carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. The U.S. emits nearly a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide; the EPA has identified it and five other greenhouse gases as a threat to public health. “The difference between this administration and the last is that we don’t believe we have an option to do nothing,” Jackson told NEWSWEEK.”
“But that doesn’t mean her job will be easy. Three months after announcing her intent, Jackson, a chemical engineer who spent years working within the EPA bureaucracy, is starting to see just how difficult it may be. For starters, the Nixon-era Clean Air Act was never intended to regulate a pollutant as pervasive as carbon. Both environmentalists and industry heads also acknowledge that Congress would be able to address the problem better. “The only thing everyone agrees on is that a regulatory approach would be more extensive and less effective than legislation,” says Paul Bledsoe, spokesman for the National Commission on Energy Policy, a Washington think tank. But until Congress takes up the question, Obama holds the only key to sweeping carbon cuts”
“Jackson’s do-it-or-else version will contain none of that. Yet despite protests by members of Congress that Jackson is infringing on their turf, leaders on Capitol Hill—mistrustful after the passage of health care and worried about a double-dip recession—have shown little interest in taking up the issue. Republicans, largely skeptical of climate change, are opposed to steep emissions cuts, and even many Democrats who are sympathetic to the cause in principle don’t want to make trouble with big employers (and donors) back in their home districts. (Some lawmakers have introduced protest bills that threaten to rewrite the Clean Air Act to curtail the EPA’s power, and even to dry up funding for the agency. They aren’t expected to go anywhere, although Jackson says she’s prepared to fight such measures.)”
“The big question in Washington isn’t whether the EPA has the authority to singlehandedly force polluters to radically cut their carbon emissions; the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that it does. It’s whether the White House is actually serious about carrying out Jackson’s plan—or if it is just noisily bluffing to get Congress to take some action, even if it falls short of Jackson’s ambitious cuts.”
“The one to watch for that answer isn’t Jackson, but Obama. With a health-care victory under his belt, the president has new clout, both with Congress and with a growing number of voters. But if the January deadline approaches and Congress still hasn’t taken up a plan to reduce carbon, Obama will have to decide if he has the political stomach to make good on Jackson’s ultimatum—a move unpopular enough that it could land him back in the trenches. It wouldn’t be a quiet fight. The other side would attack him as anti-business and anti-jobs, and it wouldn’t all be Republicans.”
“”The president understands that EPA must follow the science and its legal obligations,” says a White House official who spoke under the usual rules of anonymity. “But he has made abundantly clear that his strong preference is for Congress to pass energy and climate legislation.” Hardball Washington translation: let’s make a deal.”
March 3, 2010
I recently made a post on the Chesapeake Climate Action Network(CCAN)’s blog on Senator Barbara Mikulski’s lack of concern when it comes to the Clean Air Act. Check it out below
Here’s a question: If you’re a legislator and you voted to strengthen a particular piece of legislation, and that piece of legislation later came under threat, wouldn’t you make an effort to protect it? The answer seems logical enough, but then again, as we all know, everyday logic doesn’t always apply to the world of politics.
How else would you explain Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski’s failure stand up to protect the Clean Air Act from the attacks that it’s recently come under from the likes of Lisa “Dirty Air” Murkowski? After all, as the Senate’s Legislation and Records site shows, Senator Mikulski voted for the 1990 amendments that strengthened the original 1970 Clean Air Act, ensuring that it had the teeth it needed to really bite into problems like acid rain. But now when opponents of climate action are trying to knock those same teeth out, Mikulski is standing on the sidelines. (more…)
It’s no secret by now that Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, the Democrat in the Senate who loves acting like a Republican, is in trouble. She was already trailing her likely Republican opponent for the seat 56-33%, and now she has a Democratic challenger in the name of Lt. Governor Bill Halter. According to the Washington Post:
“Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D) is quickly becoming the darling of the liberal left in his primary challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln. In the space of just 36 hours, four liberal groups — Moveon.org, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and the Daily Kos blog — collected more than $1 million for his campaign, a remarkable total that suggests that Lincoln’s presumed cash advantage in the race may be in some jeopardy. And today the Sierra Club launches two weeks of radio ads blasting Lincoln for backing a “Big Oil bailout” in the form of her support for an effort by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from overseeing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Here is a press release from the Sierra Club on their efforts to hold Lincoln accountable for standing with polluting interests instead of Arkansas citizens
Sierra Club to Blanche Lincoln: No Big Oil Bailout
Radio Spots, Banner Ads, Other Activities Launched Today
Washington, D.C.—With a Senate vote looming, the Sierra Club today launched a robust new effort to persuade Senator Blanche Lincoln to drop her support for the Big Oil bailout proposed by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski—and crafted with the help of special interest lobbyists. The effort will include a two-week run of a new 60-second radio spot (“Blanche’s Bailout”) running in the Little Rock market, online banner ads, and phone calls to concerned Arkansans. In addition, Arkansans will also be invited to participate in a tele-town hall next week to discuss Senator Lincoln’s position on the Big Oil bailout and the need for her to instead support clean energy and energy independence. You can listen to the ad here: http://bit.ly/c8bkcr
“Senator Lincoln needs to dump this Big Oil bailout,” said Benn Davenport, Sierra Club Arkansas Representative. “Arkansans are wondering why Senator Lincoln wants to vote to protect the profits of the richest industry in human history – all the while refusing to vote for a comprehensive climate bill that will create thousands of jobs back home. There are billions of dollars in private investments waiting for Congress to pass a climate and energy bill. It’s time for her to support legislation that helps the clean energy businesses right here in Arkansas instead of Big Oil.”
The plan Senator Lincoln supports would gut the Clean Air Act in order to protect Big Oil’s profits. It would stall important new fuel economy rules that will cut America’s oil use by 1.8 billion barrels and save consumers nearly $500 a year at the gas pump. The Department of Transportation warned in a letter last week that should this Big Oil bailout pass, it “would have profoundly adverse effects on the national economy, national environmental and energy security objectives, and the economically distressed automobile manufacturing industry.” The Department of Transportation’s letter can be readhere.
“This Big Oil bailout might be a new low—even for Washington,” said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. “This assault on the Clean Air Act in order to protect Big Oil’s profits is unconscionable. The Senate has not been able to do anything on energy independence, and now Senator Lincoln wants to do even less.”
The Sierra Club recently finished a two-week round of radio spots (“Choosing Sides”) calling on Senator Lincoln to choose between Washington special interests and the needs of her constituents. Senator Lincoln’s staff responded by citing the special interests groups supporting her efforts to bail out Big Oil by gutting the Clean Air Act.
“It was particularly disappointing to see Senator Lincoln justify her support for this Big Oil bailout by pointing to the Washington special interest groups backing her plan–the American Petroleum Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other anti-science groups that are glad to trade climate security for profit,” said Davenport. “She still has time to reconsider and we hope she’ll dump this special interest plan benefiting the few, and instead, embrace a climate and energy bill that will help everyday Arkansans and our local clean energy businesses.”
The full script of “Blanche’s Bailout,” a 60-second spot appears below:
“First it was the big Wall Street banks. Then the Detroit car companies. Now some in the United States Senate want to bail out Big Oil.
“That’s right – an industry that made billions last year. And even as the Arkansas economy is hurting and gas prices are rising, our own Senator Blanche Lincoln is backing this Big Oil bailout.
“Senator Lincoln is co-sponsoring legislation that will protect Big Oil’s profits by stalling new fuel economy rules that will cut America’s oil use by nearly 2 billion barrels and save consumers nearly $500 a year at the gas pump.
“And if this wasn’t bad enough, a major newspaper reports that the plan that Lincoln supports was crafted by lobbyists for Big Oil and other special interests.
“The Senate has been unable to do anything on energy independence and now Senator Lincoln wants to do even less.
“Call Senator Lincoln at 501.375.2993 and ask her to oppose the Big Oil bailout and start making America more energy independent.
“Paid for by Sierra Club of Arkansas”
For more information, please visit: