Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Murkowski criticizes EPA greenhouse gas finding

FAIRBANKS - Sen. Lisa Murkowski plans to file a disapproval resolution to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions using the Clean Air Act.

Murkowski made the announcement Monday after the EPA made an "endangerment finding" earlier this month that greenhouse gases threaten humans.

"I remain committed to reducing emissions through a policy that will protect our environment and strengthen our economy, but EPA's backdoor climate regulations achieve neither of those goals," Murkowski said in a statement. "EPA regulation must be taken off the table so that we can focus on more responsible approaches to dealing with global climate change."

Murkowski, who has shown some support for a carbon tax, said EPA regulation of greenhouse gases could endanger future economic growth.

The disapproval resolution is somewhat like a congressional veto. The resolution, which is expected to be filed in the next few days, will go before the Environment and Public Works Committee, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

If Boxer does not act on the resolution in 20 days, it can be brought before the full Senate with 30 signatures. The resolution cannot be filibustered, but would have to be approved by a majority in the Senate and the House and President Obama. Despite the Democratic majority in the Senate, Murkowski energy spokesman Robert Dillon said, there could be bipartisan support for the resolution.

"It's not hard to get a lot of Democrats to voice their support," he said. "Nobody likes this."

Dillon said Clean Air Act regulation of greenhouse gases would be a "bureaucratic nightmare" because the law does not allow any exceptions.

Murkowski has come under fire from the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit conservation organization.

"It is a sad day when a United States senator attempts to stop a federal agency from enforcing one of our nation's most successful and cost-effective laws - the Clean Air Act," Kieran Suckling, director of the center, said in a statement. "We applaud the EPA for moving forward to implement the Clean Air Act to avert catastrophic runaway global warming and protect the air our children breathe. Unlike the current anemic Senate bills, the Clean Air Act is the only existing tool that can ensure that the United States develops a truly science-based greenhouse-pollution cap."

Julie Hasquet, spokeswoman for Sen. Mark Begich, said the junior senator shares Murkowski's goal of coming up with a bill in Congress to deal with greenhouse gas emissions but believes blocking the EPA would be premature.

"The EPA was told by the U.S. Supreme Court to have an endangerment finding, and that is what the agency has done," Hasquet said. "The EPA's finding does not in and of itself impose any emission reductions requirements, and we are a long, long way from the EPA regulating greenhouse gas emissions."


Source: By Chris Freiberg. Originally published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on December 16, 2009