Rockefeller's Bill Is a Sneak Attack on the Clean Air Act

03/16/2011 10:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Dan Lashof Chief Operating Officer NextGen Climate America Inc.; NRDC Senior Fellow

Congressional Republicans spent the day trying to legislate climate change out of existence. Not by actually doing anything to address the problem, you understand, but by overturning EPA’s scientific finding that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases endanger public health and welfare. Now Senator Rockefeller says he has a kinder, gentler approach. His proposal would not explicitly deny the problem -- it would just make it impossible for the EPA to do anything about it, at least when it comes to the largest sources, such as power plants and refineries.  

The House Energy and Commerce Committee today passed the Upton-Inhofe bill (H.R. 910) on a largely party line vote of 34 to 19. Pete Altman live blogged most of the markup and posted the rogues gallery of supporters. Meanwhile Senator McConnell joined the fray by offering the same bill as an amendment to an unrelated small business bill.

Senator Rockefeller claims that his bill is not as extreme as Upton-Inhofe, but it would have much the same effect, as I explained previously. My colleague David Doniger expanded on why this bill is bad for public health and West Virginia.  

The reason both Rockefeller and McConnell launched a sneak attack on the Clean Air Act is clear. There is broad public support for the EPA in general and limiting carbon pollution using the Clean Air Act in particular (See here and here for example). If you are trying to pass legislation that sides with big polluters rather than your constituents, your best bet it to try to sneak it through when no one is looking. 

The latest report from the Senate floor is that votes on these amendments won’t happen tonight, but will probably occur tomorrow.

Call your Senators now and ask them to vote against any legislation that would block the EPA from limiting carbon dioxide: 202-224-3121

Stay tuned to Switchboard for regular updates on Senate dirty air shenanigans. Let us know what your senators' offices say, post a comment below.