Effort would block regulation of carbon dioxide

May 28, 2010
by DTN

The Senate is set to vote next month on permanently stopping the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating pollution linked to global warming from factories, utilities and oil refineries, a spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski said last Tuesday.

The Republican effort, which enjoys the support of at least three Democrats, is unlikely to become law. But a strong vote for the measure could further undermine chances for separate legislation to control emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that President Barack Obama wants.

The vote on EPA regulation could come just as federal agencies wrap up their economic analysis of climate change legislation by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, which already faces an uphill fight.

Murkowski, a Republican from the oil-producing state of Alaska, is pushing the bill to stop the EPA regulations that could go into effect as early as next January on large polluters.

There is widespread industry opposition to EPA taking charge of carbon emissions, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the agency has the authority to regulate the pollutants now that EPA has found it to be a health threat.

Murkowski and 41 other senators are lined up behind the bill, which needs 51 votes to pass the Senate.

Its prospects are tougher in the House of Representatives and Obama has indicated that he likely would veto the measure if it were to pass both chambers of the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon said the senator reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, to hold a vote on her measure on June 10.

Murkowski took another step on behalf of the oil industry this month when she helped block a bill that would have significantly increased its liability for oil spills, such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

Still unclear is whether Democratic senators will push for votes on alternatives to Murkowski’s measure that relate to EPA regulation of carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels.

Democratic Sen. John Rockefeller, who is from the coal-producing state of West Virginia, has offered legislation that would put a two-year pause on EPA regulations, giving Congress more time to enact legislation tackling global warming.

Rockefeller’s proposal would not temporarily suspend EPA from regulating carbon pollution from vehicles.

The Obama administration’s position is that it will go ahead with carbon pollution regulations if Congress fails to approve broad climate control legislation reducing those emissions over the next four decades. — DTN