Environmental Protection

Disapproval Resolution or a Climate Bill?

The wheels of politics are turning. Can you hear them whirring now that the resolution for disapproval vote is near?

The Senate resolution seeks to block EPA from regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) and it is coming up for a vote on Thursday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) brought the measure up early in the year, soon after EPA announced its GHG endangerment finding.

Everyone seems to have something to say about this.

The Southern Governors Association doesn't seem anxious at all. In its weekly roundup, the association points out that, "According to the Congressional Review Act, which governs such resolutions, the resolution would require only 51 votes to pass and can neither be filibustered nor amended. Murkowski currently has 41 co-sponsors, including three Democrats, and it is unclear whether she has commitments from enough members to reach a majority. Even if passed, it is unlikely that the House would follow suit, and such a measure, would certainly face a Presidential veto if cleared by both houses." (The veto option has been confirmed by the White House.)

The Obama administration is focusing on the fuel economy standards, but Murkowski, in earlier statements, seems worried that the Cabinet-level agency will take the regulatory power and run with it (as does Marlo Lewis, senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute).

The administration says it believes that comprehensive energy and climate legislation is the most effective way to transition to a clean energy economy. But we haven't seen that law come out of Congress yet.

Sen. John Thune (R -S.D.), a co-sponsor of the resolution, suggested in March that EPA's regulation amounts to a national energy tax. When Congress gets its climate legislation finalized will it be handing out funding? He also refers to "backdoor regulation" of greenhouse gases. As I understand it, EPA is following its statutory obligations as interpreted by the Supreme Court. No?

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, speaking to small business owners this week, reminded the audience that the agency had developed a tailoring rule that exempts small sources of carbon dioxide emissions from regulation for the next six years: "that should be more than enough time for Congress to pass a law with permanent exemptions," she said. Maybe.

The White House claims that passage of the resolution would increase our dependence on oil and block efforts to cut health- and life-threatening pollution. I'm not sure I buy that. I think it would be more of a delaying tactic.

In the end, wouldn't the time be better spent on getting a vote on a climate law? Wouldn't it be great if Congress and EPA could work together? Aren't they on the same team?

(White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

 

Posted on Jun 09, 2010 at 12:43 PM


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