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Bruce Nilles

Bruce Nilles

Posted: January 15, 2010 02:45 PM

Stopping the Murkowski Amendment

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I suppose it might be sad to say that we were and were not surprised to hear this week that two dirty energy lobbyists helped craft the effort to neuter the Clean Air Act, which could next appear as an amendment to the Senate's debt ceiling vote next week.

If you missed it, the Washington Post confirmed on Tuesday that lobbyists from Bracewell Giuliani and Sidley Austin helped write an amendment from Senator Lisa Murkowski that will strip Clean Air Act and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to regulate global warming pollution. Check out the Washington Post follow-up on it here, here and here.

Who are Bracewell Giuliani and Sidley Austin? Oh, only lobbying firms that represent Southern Company, Duke Energy, Progress Energy, and other major coal supporters. And the specific lobbyists who ghost-wrote this amendment, Jeffrey Holmstead and Roger Martella, held EPA positions during the Bush Administration.

If you recall, last month EPA declared that global warming pollution endangers human health and welfare and announced plans to limit emissions from big polluters. The decision is a long-time coming and is crucial in controlling the global warming pollution from the coal industry - which contributes 30% of total U.S. global warming emissions.

This amendment may come up for a vote on January 20th, and its passage would mean that big polluters will be bailed out by blocking President Obama and EPA from taking action to limit emissions.

After years of research, scientific debate, court cases, public hearings and comments, Senator Murkowski is suggesting that we simply choose to "un-learn" that global warming is happening and that it will be dangerous to human health and welfare.

But EPA is merely doing what the Clean Air Act already requires--and what it was ordered to do almost three years ago by the Supreme Court.  And last month, more than 400,000 Americans submitted comments in favor of EPA's proposal to limit pollution from the biggest global warming polluters - among the highest number of comments ever submitted in favor of any proposal.

These big polluters - including the coal industry - are using the same tired old arguments, too. Suggestions that this EPA action means the agency plans to regulate farms, schools, hospitals, cows, and Dunkin' Donuts are simply false - EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said as much on numerous occasions. In reality, EPA plans to limit the new common sense, economically feasible regulations to only the largest polluters. Those statements attempting to scare small businesses are merely misleading smears designed to derail any limits on polluters.

We cannot continue to let Big Coal push for loopholes and weakened pollution rules so they can keep making money.

Instead of looking for ways to delay action, senators need to finalize comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation as soon as soon possible - and more important in the short-term, they must say no to this amendment or any other attempt to weaken the Clean Air Act.

You can urge your senators to do as much - tell them to vote no on any amendment blocking EPA action on global warming emissions from the largest polluters.