Senator Murkowski Aims to Shut Down GHG Reg

by | Jan 20, 2010

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MurkowskiU.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is expected to introduce an amendment that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) under the Clean Air Act, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Murkowski, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, unveiled her initial amendment in September, as the EPA was preparing to announce that pollution from greenhouse gases endangers public health, reports the Miami Herald.

Murkowski will either try to block the EPA by seeking an amendment to an unrelated debt bill due to go to vote on Jan. 20 or she will seek a resolution of disapproval, which would not be subject to filibuster and only need 51 votes to pass, reports the Guardian. She has the support of 34 Republicans and is reaching out to Democrats, according to the article.

Robert Dillon, communications director for the Senate energy and natural resources committee, told the Los Angeles times that the EPA regulation of greenhouse gas stationary sources is “going to be a bureaucratic nightmare, and really pose a serious threat to the economy.”

Dillon also said in the article that the proposed amendment would not interfere with the Obama administration’s plan to finalize new standards for cars and light trucks.

Murkowski’s proposed amendment is said to be drafted with the help of two energy industry lobbyists, according to several newspaper articles.

According to Politico, Murkowski has received more than $124,500 in donations from clients of an energy lobbyist involved with drafting the environmental amendment.

The Miami Herald also reports that Murkowski leads Congress with the most donations this election cycle from electric utilities — $157,046 –according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Several months ago, Murkowski’s staff contacted two lobbyists, Bracewell & Giuliani’s Jeffrey Holmstead and Sidley Austin’s Roger Martella Jr., to help to craft the amendment, to prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, reports Politico.

Holstead’s clients include Duke Energy, CSX, Progress Energy, Southern Co. and other top utility and energy companies, of which several are Murkowski’s top donors, reports Politico.

While Murkowski insists that the lobbyists did not influence the text of the document, according to Politico, she has said it is standard practice to consult those who will be likely impacted by proposed regulations, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Holmstead and Martella told the Anchorage Daily News they were consulted about the language in Murkowski’s first amendment, reports the Miami Herald.

However, it is not the first time environmentalists and industry groups have played a key role in drafting climate proposals, reports Politico. As an example, Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey relied on a proposal compiled by the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, an advocacy group of utility companies and environmental groups, to craft their legislation.

Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, told the Guardian that other senators who support climate change law but are opposed to EPA regulation could be tempted to vote for the Murkowski proposal.

Key Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan, told reporters in a telephone conference call, that he doesn’t believe that the Senate will pass a climate change bill this year, but instead will focus on an energy bill that has more bipartisan support, reports Reuters.

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