Murkowski Looks to Block EPA Carbon Emissions Limits

Posted December 14, 2009 at 4:03pm

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) invoked a little-used provision of federal law that allows the Senate to override regulatory decisions by the executive branch to try to halt the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing strict new carbon emissions limits.

Murkowski accused the EPA of attempting to strong-arm Congress into agreeing to a new cap on carbon emissions, a proposal Republicans have said would have dire economic effects.

“Congress is being threatened in a misguided attempt to move a climate bill forward. But this strategy is highly flawed because it assumes Congress will pass economically damaging legislation in order to stave off economically damaging regulations. That’s a false choice and it should be rejected outright,— Murkowski said in a floor speech Monday.

Under the Congressional Review Act, any Senator may propose a “disapproval resolution— of a regulatory action taken by a federal agency or department. The resolution is sent to the committee of jurisdiction — in this case the Environment and Public Works Committee. If the committee does not report the resolution to the full Senate within 20 calendar days, a floor fight can be forced if 30 Senators agree to a discharge petition. Former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) were key supporters of the provision when it was passed by Congress in the late 1990s.

Earlier this fall the EPA issued an “endangerment finding— listing carbon dioxide emissions as a pollutant — the first step toward the development of emissions standards. Carbon dioxide is the primary pollutant responsible for climate change.

Murkowski warned that until EPA regulations are taken off the table, she and other Senate Republicans will not agree to carbon controls. She accused the Obama administration of “playing Russian roulette— with the economy.

“EPA regulation must be taken off the table so that we can focus on more responsible approaches to dealing with global climate change … until the administration stops playing Russian roulette with the economy and decides to reach across the aisle, however, it will be difficult to do anything but oppose the irresponsible decisions that are being made,— Murkowski said.