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It appears that one Republican female politician from Alaska has managed to drum up some Democratic support in the Senate. In a move that the New York Times editorial page called "mischievous," Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) wants to block the EPA for one year from regulating greenhouse gases as a pollutant from stationary sources like factories. This would also derail the finalization of standards on car emissions. Murkowski has proposed this amendment to an unrelated bill dealing with the national debt ceiling, which will be voted on this week.
Kate Sheppard from Mother Jones reported that late Friday night she got confirmation from Murkowski's office that the bill will have a Democratic co-sponsor, although no one has been able to definitively confirm who.
However, Sheppard has her suspicions that it's Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D):
It wouldn't be that surprising if Webb joined Murkowski's effort. Last month Webb lambasted the Obama administration for pursuing an international deal on climate change in Copenhagen before the Senate had passed a climate bill. At the same time, he has pledged to vote against the cap-and-trade bills circulating in Congress.
When the EPA announced in December 2009 that greenhouse gases were a danger to human health and were now under the purview of the EPA, many saw this as the Obama administration moving forward with limiting emissions, whether or not Congress could get on board with passing cap and trade or further emissions laws.
The New York Times Editorial Board writes about Murkowski's plans,
Ms. Murkowski says she's concerned about global warming but worries even more about what she fears would be a bureaucratic nightmare if the E.P.A. were allowed to regulate greenhouse gases. She says she would prefer a broad legislative solution. So would President Obama. But unlike Ms. Murkowski, he would not unilaterally disarm the E.P.A. before Congress has passed a bill.
UPDATE: Senator Webb's office has given a statement on the issue to Mother Jones, and while they won't confirm if Webb will sign on to the EPA amendment, they do confirm that Webb opposes the EPA regulating greenhouse gases based on concerns about the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches.
Senator Webb has shared with Senator Murkowski his concerns about the EPA's latest finding, concerning the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, in the absence of clear congressional involvement and direction. Since his campaign for the U.S. Senate, one of Senator Webb's principal themes has been to restore and maintain the proper balance of power between the executive branch and Congress. Senator Webb advanced similar arguments, concerning congressional engagement and approval, in August 2008 during the Bush Administration's negotiation of the Iraq Security Agreements.
He has said on related issues for many years that the regulatory power of the executive branch is derived specifically from the legislative branch. It should be applied narrowly and in strict conformity with the Constitution and clear legislation enacted by the Congress. An executive branch decision to broadly interpret a legislative statute--especially one involving sweeping implications for our country--without such direction from Congress is inappropriate.
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