Today the Senate made the smart choice of voting down Senator Murkowski's resolution to undermine the EPA's authority to reduce global warming pollution. Now we can move to the real work at hand: passing clean energy and climate legislation.
Murkowski's resolution was a dangerous distraction from the start, an anti-science folly that would have reversed the widely supported Obama Administration clean care measures that will save Americans 19 billion gallons of gasoline. To increase demand for gasoline even as oil pours into the Gulf of Mexico is unfathomable.
Rather than offer solutions, Murkowski seemed to want to turn America's back on the pressing challenges of oil dependence, climate change, and hazardous pollution.
The Senate refused to step backward. It moved instead toward a cleaner future.
Today the Senate voted for science. Although Senator Murkowski claimed she doesn't dispute climate science, the very nature of her resolution asked the Senate to nullify the EPA's findings, as well as the overwhelming consensus of the National Academy of Sciences and numerous other sources. Senators chose instead to stand by the scientific evidence.
Today the Senate voted for the Clean Air Act. Rather than letting polluters police their own global warming pollution, the Senate affirmed that the same successful EPA model that reduced lead, acid rain, and ozone-depleting chemicals should be used for carbon emissions as well.
Today the Senate voted for climate action. It confirmed that America must begin reducing the dangerous pollution that causes global warming.
This is good start. Now we must take the next step: passing clean energy and climate legislation.
And we will need all hands on deck to get it done. I will be keeping my eye on those Senators, including Senator Collins and Senator Rockefeller, who voted for this resolution even while saying they accept the science and the urgent need for action. The burden is now on them to demonstrate their seriousness, and I hope to see them roll up their sleeves and get to work building a 60-vote majority for passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this summer.
This bill has become a top priority legislative priority. Last week, President Obama made his strongest case yet for enacting a comprehensive bill. He said, "I will continue to make the case for a clean energy future wherever and whenever I can, and I will work with anyone from either party to get this done. But we will get this done."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, meanwhile, urged the Senate Chairmen to focus on comprehensive clean energy legislation so they can bring a bill to the floor during the July work period.
There are several clean energy and climate proposals circulating in the Senate right now. Just yesterday, Senator Lugar introduced a bill that, while it has some problematic elements, has many strong pieces that could be integrated into a comprehensive bill. I hope Senators use the next few weeks to compile the best components of all the proposals.
But above all else, the comprehensive bill must include a cap on carbon emission -- the pollution that most Senators agreed today was a hazard that must be reduced.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.