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June 14, 2010
Resolution Denying EPA Authority to Regulate Emissions is Defeated by Senate
    by Robert Kropp

By a vote of 53-47, Senate defeats disapproval resolution introduced by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, paving the way for a vote on the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act.

Last December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an endangerment finding relating to greenhouse gases (GHGs), which determined that the six primary GHGs threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.

Despite the fact that the finding constituted the EPA's response to a 2007 decision by the US Supreme Court that, based on the Clean Air Act, the Agency had the authority to regulate GHG emissions, opponents of meaningful climate change regulation wasted no time in attempting to obstruct the agency’s authority.

On February 12, the US Chamber of Commerce filed a formal petition asking a federal court to review the EPA ruling, stating that it “will challenge EPA’s decision to trigger Clean Air Act regulation, based on lapses in EPA’s process in making that decision,” according to Steven Law, chief legal officer and general counsel at the Chamber.

In January, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska introduced a disapproval resolution to prevent the EPA from regulating GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Murkowski’s resolution came to a vote on the Senate floor last week, where it was defeated by a vote of 53-47. According to Eileen Claussen, President of the
Pew Center on Global Climate Change, “Of the Senators voting for the resolution, at least 8 made statements saying that they believe we need to reduce GHG emissions.”

“In other words,” Claussen continued, “At least 61 Senators, through their votes or statements today, expressed support for policy that would limit GHG emissions.”

The defeat of Murkowski’s resolution seems to pave the way for a vote by the Senate on the
American Power Act, introduced last month by Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman. The emissions reductions proposed in the bill are modest—at 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, they reproduce the commitment made in Copenhagen last December by President Obama—and most emissions allowances mandated in the bill will be free until 2019.

However, according to
Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a coalition of companies focused on advancing climate and energy policies to address the risks and challenges of global climate change, the bill includes “crucial initiatives to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Washington Post-ABC News poll published on June 10 indicated that 71% of respondents support federal regulation of emissions from “sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming.”


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