Brava, Sen. Murkowski

by Marlo Lewis on June 14, 2010

in Blog

Last Thursday, by a vote of 53-47, the Senate rejected S.J.Res.26, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution of disapproval to overturn EPA’s endangerment rule.

Although Sen. Murkowski fell four votes short of achieving a legislative victory, she nonetheless won an important political victory. 

During the past four-plus months, despite vicious attacks by eco-pressure groups and preemptive cringing by the subsidy dependent auto industry, Sen. Murkowksi worked patiently, calmly, and indefatigably to clarify the real issues, which are: (1) “The sweeping powers being pursued by EPA are the worst possible option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions”; (2) “politically accountable members of the House and Senate, not unelected bureaucrats, must develop our nation’s energy and climate policies”; and (3) ”those policies must be able to pass on their own merits, instead of serving as a defense against ill-considered regulations.”

All 41 Republican Senators and six Democrats voted to stop EPA from ‘enacting’ controversial global warming policies through the regulatory back door. This means Democratic leaders have become the Party of Endangerment — the party taking ownership of the regulatory consequences of EPA’s endangerment rule; hence the party taking responsibility for the economic fallout.

By denying President Obama bipartisan cover for greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act, Sen. Murkowski has made EPA’s endangerment rule a political liability for Democrats and a political asset for Republicans in an election year.

That should increase the pressure on moderate Dems and Republicans alike to distance themselves from Democratic leaders and eschew cap-and-trade, which, like EPA’s regulations, would increase consumer energy prices, killing jobs and growth.

Sen. Murkowski’s opening and closing statements in the floor debate clearly and cogently explain how the endangerment rule imperils our economy and representative democracy. Below are some noteworthy excerpts.

Excerpts from Sen. Murkowski’s Opening Statement

The sweeping powers being pursued by the EPA are the worst possible option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. . . .It would amount to an unprecedented power grab, ceding Congress’ responsibilities to unelected bureaucrats, and move an important debate from our open halls to behind an agency’s closed doors.

* * *

The only similarity I see between the spill in the Gulf of Mexico and EPA’s regulations is that both are unmitigated disasters — one happening now, the other waiting in the wings if Congress fails to adopt this resolution.

* * *

No one is more aware of this uncomfortable fact [that EPA’s regulatory net would expand by orders of magnitude] than the EPA itself. That’s why the agency has attempted to dramatically increase the thresholds for greenhouse gases in its so-called tailoring rule. Unhappy with the plain language of the Clean Air Act, the agency plans to lift its limits up to 1,000 times higher than Congress directed. It’s deeply disturbing that EPA did not accept that the Act is simply not structured for this task, and instead attempted to make it so by ignoring the plain language and unilaterally amending it.

* * *

I encourage my colleagues to think about the logic behind the tailoring rule. The EPA is asking us to accept that while greenhouse gases are not in the Clean Air Act, Congress clearly intended them to be regulated under it. At the same time, we’re expected to believe that while explicit regulatory thresholds are in the Act, Congress meant for EPA to ignore them.

* * *

To this day, the agency still has not provided anything close to a full projection of the economic impacts that its economy-wide climate regulations will have. There are two potential reasons why: the EPA either has no cost estimates, or knows they are too astronomical to calculate and release.

* * *

The problem is that BACT [best available control technology] remains completely undefined at this point. It could mean efficiency improvements, expensive add-on technologies, or even fuel-switching requirements. Over time, the EPA would have little choice but to impose all of those requirements and more, regardless of the consequences.

* * *

Again, it’s hard not to find this both surreal and deeply alarming. We need to be growing our economy, not paralyzing it.

* * *

This brings me to my final point: politically accountable members of the House and Senate, not unelected bureaucrats, must develop our nation’s energy and climate policies. And those policies must be able to pass on their own merits, instead of serving as a defense against ill-considered regulations.

* * *

Nor is it [S.J.Res.26] about fuel efficiency — the Department of Transportation is and has been in charge for 35 years, and we don’t need another agency and another standard thrown into the mix to do the same job . . . .The EPA does not need to take over this process, and it should not be allowed to do so under a law that was never intended to regulate fuel economy.

* * *

Bringing climate science, the oil spill, and fuel economy into this debate are attempts at misdirection — “green herrings” intended to convince members to oppose our resolution. But this debate has nothing to do with those topics. . . .It’s about maintaining the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, as our founding fathers intended, and rejecting an unprecedented overreach by the EPA into the affairs of Congress.

Excerpts from Sen. Murkowski’s Closing Statement

Most cynical are the efforts to link our resolution to the oil spill. That serves only to cheapen the horrible and ongoing tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico and distract from the reasons why 41 Senators sponsored this resolution. Here’s the real question: why is the EPA attempting to impose economy-wide regulations — regulations that will not help clean up or prevent future accidents — instead of focusing its resources on the spill?

* * *

We’ve heard that our resolution is anti-science. Some of our supporters agree with it [EPA’s endangerment analysis], and some do not. The reality is that the science is what it is, and it is beyond the power of Congress to change. But this is an issue of the best way, and the most appropriate body, to respond to the conclusions being reached by members of the scientific community.

* * *

Threatening to disrupt our nation’s economy until we pass a bill by the slimmest of margins, regardless of its merits, won’t be much of an accomplishment. Nor is that approach worthy of the institutions and people we serve. It isn’t appropriate for a challenge of this magnitude. No policy that results from it will achieve our common goals or stand the test of time.

* * *

Today is the day for the Senate to take the threat of EPA climate regulations off the table once and fall all. . . .By passing our bipartisan resolution of disapproval resolution, we can return the debate over climate policy to its rightful home, here in Congress, where duly-elected representatives can represent the best interests of their constituents.

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John A. Jauregui June 27, 2010 at 8:39 am

Question: What are the chances an infinitesimal (.04%) trace gas (CO2), essential to photosynthesis and therefore life on this planet, is responsible for runaway Global Warming?

Answer: Infinitesimal

The IPCC now agrees. See the IPCC Technical Report section entitled Global Warming Potential (GWP). And the GWP for CO2? Just 1, (one), unity, the lowest of all green house gases (GHG). What’s more, trace gases which include GHG constitute less than 1% of the atmosphere. Of that 1%, water vapor, the most powerful GHG, makes ups 40% of the total. Carbon dioxide is 1/10th of that amount, an insignificant .04%. If carbon dioxide levels were cut in half to 200PPM, all plant growth would stop according to agricultural scientists. It's no accident that commercial green house owner/operators invest heavily in CO2 generators to increase production, revenues and profits. Prof. Michael Mann's Bristle cone tree proxy data (Hockey stick) proves nothing has done more to GREEN (verb) the planet over the past few decades than moderate sun-driven warming (see solar inertial motion) together with elevated levels of CO2, regardless of the source. None of these facts have been reported in the national media. Why?

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