Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has circulated a draft amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill—the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual spending bill—calling to prevent the Agency from regulating stationary sources of greenhouse gases, despite a mandate from the US Supreme Court two years ago to do just that.
The amendment would ignore worldwide scientific consensus that indicates carbon dioxide emissions from both stationary and mobile sources as a major threat to public health and welfare. Logic, science, and the law agree! Global warming pollution from power plants and oil refineries is just as harmful as that from cars and other passenger vehicles. According to major scientific bodies, such as the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, carbon dioxide emissions—no matter what its source may be—are warming the planet, as well as threatening public health and the welfare of our citizens.
Furthermore, the Murkowski amendment would severely undermine the Clean Air Act’s provisions to protect public health and the environment. Oil refineries and coal plants are among the biggest global warming polluters in the nation. The amendment would let these big players off the hook, delaying any momentum our nation has in transitioning to sources of clean energy. If the amendment is rejected, our ongoing shift toward solar and wind energy will drastically benefit our nation, providing a continuous and cleaner supply of energy that will only get cheaper over time, while creating millions of clean energy jobs.
The United States is the single largest producer of harmful gases, with China and India following closely behind. China has even surpassed the US at times in CO2 emissions, although with the current economic recession it’s tough to know who is winning, or should we say losing, the carbon pollution race. Our nation alone contributes nearly 25 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions each year. It is feared that the amendment would make a loud statement heard across the world; one that says the U.S. is not serious about reducing and controlling its global warming pollution, giving developing countries a ‘get out of jail free’ card when it comes to reducing their own carbon emissions. This could be devastating to international negotiations slated to take place in Copenhagen in December to create a framework to follow up to the Kyoto Protocol.
Lastly, the Murkowski amendment could inevitably prevent the EPA from preparing to implement climate legislation. The Agency would be prohibited from collecting information and expertise it may need to effectively implement climate change legislation, such as the carbon-capture-and-sequestration bonus allowance program, free allowances for energy-intensive manufacturers, or early-offset programs.
If Murkowski gets her way, we could see a vote this week. This is the wrong message for our Senators to send, who should not be trying to overturn a Supreme Court ruling and impede international climate negotiations through dirty tricks playing with the budgets of federal agencies.