Bradford Plumer at TNR:
The Hill‘s Alex Bolton has a good preview of the Senate vote today on Lisa Murkowski’s EPA resolution. This resolution, recall, would overturn the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare. Not only would that stop the agency from cracking down on new coal plants and other greenhouse-gas emitters, but it would also scrap the new fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks that the Obama administration recently put in place. (It was the first time CAFE standards had been raised in 30 years.) Green groups have been hitting that latter point especially hard, noting that Murkowski’s resolution would, in effect, “increase our dependence on oil… by billions of barrels.”
The resolution only needs 51 votes to pass the Senate, and it’s starting to pick up some Democratic support from coal-staters like West Virginia’s John Rockefeller. Granted, even if it does squeak through the Senate, it won’t get by the House and it certainly can’t overcome an Obama veto. But passage isn’t really the point. Republicans are trying to put pressure on Obama and the EPA not to regulate carbon.
Update 4:30pm Eastern. The Murkowski resolution to stop the EPA power grab failed on a 47-53 vote.
The 6 Dems who voted with Rs to try and head off the eco-usurpation…
Landrieu, Lincoln, B. Nelson, M. Pryor, Bayh, Rockefeller.
Remember in November.
Some people were surprised that Bayh crossed, but I’m not. He’s retiring, but his votes will reflect on Brad Ellsworth, who’s running to replace him, so he’s going to stick with the state’s most important interests. Zero Republicans voted against Murkowski.
So the good news, I guess, is that Murkowski’s resolution went down. The bad news is that in a 60-vote Senate, it’s hard to imagine a climate bill, or even a mere energy bill that does something about coal-fired plants, getting through.
Dan Holler at Heritage:
The EPA’s regulations will marginalize any potential economic recovery by making investment and job creation more expensive. Why? Because the costs of regulation are staggering. The EPA estimates the average permit will cost applicants $125,000 and 866 hours of labor. Some businesses will simply close. The lucky ones will move overseas, cancel expansion plans and just lower wages. All of those are bad options considering the American economy has lost nearly 8 million jobs over the past 30 months.
Despite the outcome of today’s vote, many liberals recognize the EPA cannot be left to its own devises, which means there will be other, more subtle efforts to limit the EPA’s regulatory dragnet.
Chief among them is a proposal offered by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). His proposal would simply delay the implementation of the EPA’s regulation. Delaying these destructive regulations is not inherently bad, but it does not address the fact that bad regulations are indeed coming. It creates regulatory uncertainty is bad for the economy and bad for the American people.
According to Greenwire (subscription required), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised the Senate would vote on Rockefeller’s proposal before the elections. The article implied Reid’s promise was designed to prevent the Murkowski resolution from passing.
Another potential alteration of the EPA’s regulatory scheme comes from Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Robert Casey (D-PA), both of whom voted against Senator Murkowski’s resolution. Their approach is rumored to “protect” small businesses while focusing the economic pain on only the biggest emitters. Any student of economics knows those so-called “big emitters” will pass those costs along businesses and families. Even worse, the plan would only “protect” the little guy until 2016.
Everyone who is concerned about climate change agrees that comprehensive legislation is far preferable to the EPA’s limited toolset for addressing the problem. I’ve said it. Harry Reid and John Kerry have said it. Most environmental organizations have said it. Even Barack Obama has said it. But folks like Blanche Lincoln and Jay Rockefeller are the people preventing Congress from addressing climate change. Indeed, neither of them has lifted a finger to nudge Congress in that direction. Their insistence that Congress deal with the problem — in light of their refusal to let Congress do so — is a thinly disguised effort to make sure the problem is not addressed. Senators who make this argument have no shame and no sense of irony whatsoever. Their arguments should not be taken at face value.