A battle is brewing in the Senate over Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski’s proposed “resolution of disapproval” to block the Environmental Protection Agency from moving forward with plans to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (CAA).
Murkowski’s proposal, introduced on Jan. 21, expresses congressional disapproval for EPA’s finding issued late last year that greenhouse gases pose a danger to public health and welfare. The resolution would need Senate and House approval and President Obama’s signature before taking effect.
At least 25 Republicans and Democrats Ben Nelson (Neb.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (La.) back Murkowski’s measure. It needs 51 votes to pass. Landrieu, in a view shared by industry groups, says the Clean Air Act “was never intended to regulate greenhouse gases.” She says that using the law to do so would result in “poorly designed regulations that damage our economy, lead to greater investment uncertainty and [don’t] do enough to enhance energy security and reduce the risks of climate change.”
Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and other panel Democrats on Jan. 21 chastised Murkowski for trying to circumvent a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
Environmental groups oppose the proposal. Bill Becker, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies’ executive director, says, “Most state and local air-pollution control agencies support using the CAA as an important regulatory tool to control greenhouse gases.”
Meanwhile, efforts to pass climate-change legislation have stalled in the Senate as lawmakers grapple with health-care and budget issues. After Boxer’s committee cleared a bill with no GOP votes, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) began attempting to craft a new climate-change bill they hope will win more bipartisan support.