Can the EPA Unite the Senate?
Today the Senate is voting on Senator Lisa Murkowski’s resolution that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions through the Clean Air Act. In the months and years to come there is going to be a long and spirited debate about the desirability and structure of any federal government effort against carbon pollution.
But there should be no debate about the desirability of Murkowski’s disapproval resolution.
The move essentially vetoes the endangerment finding by the EPA — a determination that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare, and therefore must be regulated through the Clean Air Act. Unfortunately, the Clean Air Act was designed to take on stationary air pollution sources, not something as complex and as far-reaching as carbon dioxide.
Liberals are peddling the notion that the resolution constitutes an “oil company bailout,” but that is just spin. The reality is that Senator Murkowski is leaving the playing field wide open for future legislation and simply removing the power of EPA bureaucrats to create a costly patchwork of duplicative mandates and conflicting standards.
Because there is something for both sides, this is not a partisan issue. For example, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) recently said “when Congress passed the Clean Air Act, it never gave the EPA the explicit authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for the purpose of stopping global climate change.” With good reason. Consider the observation of Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio) who recently pointed out, “Regulating greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Air Act could kill jobs and hurt the economic recovery. That’s not what we need right now… The Clean Air Act, as I understand it, wasn’t created so that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”
Under the Congressional Review Act, Senator Murkowski’s resolution only needs 51 votes to pass. It should get 100. It would be the right step for the economy by taking off the table the threat of burdensome and intrusive regulation. It would also be the right step for proponents of legislation to regulate carbon, because it would focus the debate on the merits.
This article originally appeared in The Hill on June 10, 2010