Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: EDITORIAL: Valiant effort: Murkowski’s resolution drew support across the spectrum

Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost the vote Thursday, but her resolution to disapprove the Environmental Protection Agency's approach to greenhouse gases drew even stronger support in the Senate than expected. While the support didn't provide a victory, the 47-53 vote at least provided some vindication.

During the past year, Murkowski, R-Alaska, was skewered for daring to question the EPA's approach. The mocking criticism often highlighted her campaign contributors, as if they were the guiding hands behind her.

Common sense was her guide in this effort. It's too bad it didn't prevail, and it will be interesting to see how the administration deals with the Senate's lapse in judgment. If the EPA continues down this path, the federal government will take on an enormous permitting task that is badly designed to accomplish the goal it seeks. Already, administrators are promising to delay the most onerous permit requirements and rewrite the rules to exempt many sources of carbon emissions from limits.

Republicans unanimously backed Murkowski on this one. Even Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and a longtime advocate of greenhouse gas limits, voted to take up Murkowski's resolution. Democrats mostly opposed the resolution, but enough broke ranks to demonstrate that it just might have had some broader merit. Democratic Sens. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Evan Bayh of Indiana and David Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas all voted to bring Murkowski's resolution before the Senate.

Some might dismiss these as votes obviously cast from political necessity. McCain is in a tough primary battle in a conservative state. Most of the other Democrats are in conservative or energy-producing states as well. But that fails to explain support from Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. All represent Northeastern states whose residents generally favor action on greenhouse gases.

And even more Democrats agreed in public statements that the EPA's approach is improper. However, they said they voted against the resolution so the threat of EPA action would keep the pressure on Congress to pass its own rules for limiting greenhouse gases. In other words: "Limit carbon emissions or we'll make life miserable."

Such pressure has thin hope of success, given the makeup of Congress and the fact that most people, politicians included, don't respond well to threats.

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Source: Published by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner June 11, 2010