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Senate Dems May Back Murkowski Plan to Block EPA Climate Rules

Ben Geman

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in this file photo. Murkowski believes EPA regulations will harm the economy and eventually reach small businesses, despite an agency plan to shield small emitters. Several Democratic senators, including Jay Rockefeller, may join Republicans in this effort. (Photo: AP)

WASHINGTON - Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he “could very well”
vote for Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) plan to block any
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) climate change rules even though
it goes much further than his competing measure.

The Senate is
slated to vote Thursday on Murkowski’s resolution, which cannot be
amended or filibustered but nonetheless faces a tough road to winning 51

“It is a message about EPA,” Rockefeller told
reporters in the Capitol on Monday evening. “I think it will send a
message regardless of how many votes it gets.” That message, he added,
“would be with respect to EPA’s closing in on coal.”

Rockefeller — a proponent of his home state’s coal industry — has
floated a separate bill that would require a two-year pause before EPA
can implement rules limiting emissions from stationary industrial
sources like power plants.

Murkowski’s plan is more sweeping.

would overturn EPA’s “endangerment finding” last year that greenhouse
gases threaten humans. The finding is the legal precursor to rules that
will require facilities including oil refineries and power plants to
minimize emissions.

Murkowski believes EPA regulations will
harm the economy and eventually reach small businesses, despite an
agency plan to shield small emitters.

But the endangerment
finding also enables EPA rules to limit vehicle emissions, which
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) noted in attacking Murkowski’s plan
on the Senate floor Monday.

“This week, we will debate a
resolution of disapproval that will prevent the Department of
Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency from working
together to slow the pollution from heavy-duty vehicles,” Reid said on
the Senate floor. “The result of this resolution, if passed, would be to
waste at least 450 million more barrels of oil than we need to. That is

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson bashed Murkowski’s
effort Monday in a Huffington

Murkowski has thus far attracted three
Democratic co-sponsors: Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and
Ben Nelson (Neb.).

But Murkowski’s Alaska colleague, Sen.
Mark Begich (D), said he’s leaning against her plan for several reasons.
Among them: Blocking EPA’s looming requirements would remove pressure
on Congress to act on a comprehensive energy and climate bill.

need a comprehensive energy plan, and if this keeps the fire under
these guys to get something major done, I'm all for it,” Begich told
reporters Monday.

A liberal advocacy group that's opposing
Murkowski’s plan
is fearful that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one
of the GOP’s centrists, may vote for it. Americans United for Change has
launched a new TV ad
running in Portland, Maine, that urges Collins to oppose it.

Sen. Collins to keep Maine’s skies clear. Vote no on the Murkowski Big
Oil bailout,” the ad states.

For further reading, see this report at SolveClimate.

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