- New York Times -
In a direct challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, introduced a resolution on Thursday to prevent the agency from taking any action to regulate carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases.
Ms. Murkowski, joined by 35 Republicans and three conservative Democrats, proposed to use the Congressional Review Act to strip the agency of the power to limit emissions of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court gave the agency legal authority to regulate such emissions in a landmark 2007 ruling.
The agency has declared carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to be a threat to human health and the environment and is moving to write regulations to restrict emissions from vehicles, power plants and other major sources. The action could impose significant costs on the economy but would also rein in production of the heat-trapping gases that most scientists link to worrisome changes in the global climate.
“Make no mistake,” Ms. Murkowski said in a floor statement, “if Congress allows this to happen there will be severe consequences.” She said businesses would be forced to close or move overseas, domestic energy production would be curtailed, housing would become more expensive and agricultural costs would rise.
Her resolution requires a majority vote in the Senate, a remote possibility because of the strong opposition of the Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, and most other Democrats. It faces even longer odds in the House. And then it would require the signature of President Obama, who is all but certain to veto it because it would rob him of a critical regulatory tool.
Ms. Murkowski said that the Obama administration was using the threat of E.P.A. regulation to force Congress to move quickly on broad energy and climate-change legislation, including a complex cap-and-trade program to limit carbon-dioxide pollution.
Ms. Murkowski, the senior Republican on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has nearly unanimous Republican support in addition to the backing of the three Democrats: Senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Her effort was applauded by a broad swath of industry, agriculture and energy lobbies, which fear the prospect of what they consider capricious and heavy-handed regulation by the E.P.A.
An aide to Mr. Reid said that the measure was unlikely to come to a vote before March because of a crowded legislative calendar. He also said that while Mr. Reid believes that legislation to address climate change is preferable to E.P.A. regulation, the agency must retain the authority to act if Congress does not.
“There is no disagreement that it would be better than E.P.A. regulation for Congress to pass bipartisan comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that creates jobs, improves our energy security and invests in making our economy and businesses more efficient and globally competitive,” the aide, Jim Manley, said. “But, thus far, very few Republicans have shown any willingness to work with us to get that done.”