Tuesday, January 12, 2010

EPW Dems United In Opposition To Murkowski Amendment

Jan 11: All of the Members of the Democratic Caucus on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee have joined together to oppose a proposal by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to overturn U.S. EPA's global warming endangerment finding. A January 11, 2009 "Dear Colleague" letter urging Members to oppose the proposal was signed by all twelve of the Majority Members of the Committee: Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA).

The letter indicates, "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers public health and public welfare. In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gas emissions were covered under the Clean Air Act and the EPA had a duty to determine whether the endangerment finding was warranted by the science. A "Resolution of Disapproval" using expedited procedures under the Congressional Review Act or other similar amendment is expected to be introduced in the Senate to overturn EPA's global warming endangerment finding.

"Debating policy choices regarding the appropriate response to unchecked climate change is fair, and the Senate will continue to evaluate the best tools for addressing greenhouse gas emissions, but repealing an endangerment finding based upon years of work by America's scientists and public health experts is not appropriate. The independent work of scientists and public health experts from both the Bush and Obama administrations should stand on its own. We strongly urge you to vote "no" when a Resolution of Disapproval or a similar amendment comes before the Senate."

On December 14, 2009 Senator Murkowski announced her intention to file a "disapproval resolution" to stop U.S. EPA from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act [
See WIMS 12/15/09]. Murkowski’s resolution comes in the wake of the agency’s recent endangerment finding, which she said will result in "damaging new regulations that endanger America’s economy." The Senator's announced disapproval came one day before EPA's endangerment finding was officially published in the Federal Register [74 FR 66495-66546, 12/15/09]. The endangerment finding was announced by EPA on December 7 [See WIMS 12/8/09].

A Washington Post (WP), January 11 article reported that Senator Murkowski "is likely to postpone offering an amendment next week that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. . ." The issue was scheduled to be considered in the Senate on January 20. The WP article discusses the activities of two industrial lobbyist who worked with Murkowski's staff in drafting an amendment. The legislative maneuvering is complicated by the disapproval resolution procedures of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) which allow the resolution to be placed on the Senate calendar, where it is given expedited consideration on the Senate floor, and not subject to filibuster.

Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director issued a statement commenting on the WP article and said, "We now have proof that lobbyists for Big Oil, dirty coal and other special interests are directly involved in recent attempts to bail out big polluters and gut the Clean Air Act. What's more, these big polluter lobbyists are the same former Bush administration officials who completely disregarded the Clean Air Act and even disobeyed the Supreme Court for years. While Big Oil, dirty coal, and other polluters were busy trying to craft backroom deals with their allies in Congress, last month more than 400,000 Americans voiced their support for President Obama's plans to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming. Instead of bailing out big polluters, it's time for Congress to get serious about passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. Clean energy and climate legislation can deliver less pollution, more jobs, and greater security."

On January 6, the nonprofit organization, 1Sky issued a statement announcing a national call-in day to Senators' home offices on January 12, to oppose the amendment being proposed by Senator Murkowski [See WIMS 1/6/10].

Access an announcement and the letter from EPW Democrats (
click here). Access the WP article with further details and links to the Murkowski amendment (click here). Access the statement from Sierra Club (click here). Access a 1Sky blog posting on the momentum for climate change legislation with links to related information (click here).