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Murkowski resolution wasn’t a referendum on EPA regulation

06/11/2010

Senator Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) resolution to retract the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and welfare failed in a vote on June 10.

Senator Murkowski responded in a statement, “I had hopes, for the security of our economy, that we would prevail today. But regardless of the outcome, I believe it’s important that every member of the Senate is on the record on whether they think the EPA regulation is the appropriate way to address the climate issues.”

As a political matter, the vote on the Murkowski resolution will be seen as a barometer for how Senators feel about EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. But it’s important to understand what the Senate really voted on.

Senator Murkowski’s resolution, introduced under the Congressional Review Act, would retract a scientific document produced by EPA finding that greenhouse gases are harmful.  Under the Congressional Review Act, once a disapproval resolution has been signed by the president, the agency is barred from issuing a new action that is “substantially the same” as the one that was retracted.

That means Congress is voting over a scientific conclusion and then barring the agency from ever issuing a similar scientific finding in the future.

Public Citizen strongly believes that any climate action taken by Congress must protect EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. But the question as to whether this is the correct approach is at least a matter of policy about which there could be some debate.

The science of climate change is another matter entirely. Congress simply cannot resolve questions of science through a vote.

And whether the vote on the Murkowski resolution is interpreted to provide some insight into where Senators may stand on the question of EPA regulation, the 47 senators who voted in favor of Murkowski’s resolution voted against the science of climate change.

Lena Pons is a policy analyst at Public Citizen.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Beth S. permalink
    07/01/2010 2:59 am

    Are the 47 “no” votes representative of their constituents views? Sadly, climate change is no longer a scientific term, it’s a political view which can be denied by those with their heads stuck in the sand. And the oil spills continue!

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