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36 Repubs and 3 Dems Prefer Murky Air to Clean Air

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Climate Change Poster State) introduced her attack on the Clean Air Act today, and it’s even uglier than the air she wants us to breathe. Officially, she introduced a resolution of disapproval: using the Congressional Review Act, the resolution would (if passed) strip the agency of the power to limit emissions of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Three DINOs, Mary Landrieu (D-Submerged Coastline), Blanche Lincoln (D-American Farm Bureau), and Ben Nelson (D-Dust Bowl) joined Murkowski and 35 of her closest Republican friends. Now, that’s bipartisanship!

Murkowski’s speech had the usual platitudes. She praised the bipartisanship of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. She whined that the EPA’s findings "will hit my home state’s energy sector particularly hard. The continued operation of existing businesses and future endeavors alike – including Alaska’s three refineries, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS, and the proposed Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline – will all be jeopardized." Gee, Senator, anyone in your home state going to be jeopardized by a failure to act? And she concern-trolled about how she wants a legislative solution so badly that she last worked on a weak and ineffective carbon cap bill in 2006. Watch, if you must:

Last fall, Murkowski tried to stall EPA action for one year, and her amendment didn’t even make it on to the floor. This time around, she’s not proposing mere procrastination, but rather a frontal attack that would have the effect of prohibiting the EPA from finding at a later date that carbon endangers human health.

However, don’t listen to my response. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has a far better takedown:

This resolution represents an irresponsible attempt to take away the power of an independent agency whose sole purpose is to protect the health of our families, friends, and neighbors and the environment we live in.

Imagine if Congress always put the interests of polluters ahead of the health of our families. Our rivers and lakes would be choked with sewage. Acid rain would pour down from smog-filled skies. Hundreds of thousands more of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones would be victims of cancer, heart disease, and asthma. President Nixon—Nixon!—signed the EPA into law because even Republicans recognized that unchecked pollution was poisoning our people.

The Congressional Review Act was passed by a Republican-dominated Congress in 1996 fearful of President Clinton’s regulatory power. It’s only been used successfully once. Murkowski’s amendment must be passed by a simple majority of 51 Senators, then pass the House (good luck with that, polluters) and be signed into law by President Obama (ditto). In other words, Murkowski’s amendment is unlikely to become law. However, it’ll be spun as yet another reason to give up on a comprehensive climate bill this year. Landrieu and Nelson have been considered "probably no" votes on a climate bill for some time; Lincoln may have fallen in the "fence sitter" category but has not been considered an easily swayable vote.

For those keeping score at home, the four Republicans not joining in the Murky Air Amendment were the Maine Twins, who actually might be sensible; John Ensign (R-NV), presumably because he was raising cash to pay blackmailers fund C Street House renovations; and Jim DeMint (R-SC), not normally considered a friend of clean air. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even joined Murkowski’s amendment, although to his credit he is actually working on a legislative solution.

(x-posted at DailyKos)

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