Stop Murkowski: Alaska Senator to Deal Huge Blow to Clean Air and Global Warming Regulation

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) plans to introduce a Congressional Disapproval Resolution that would block enforcement of the Clean Air Act for greenhouse gases. Her "Dirty Air Act" resolution would "retroactively veto" the Environmental Protection Agency's finding released in December "that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare," threatening the hopes for a clean energy economic recovery for the nation. The U.S. Global Change Research Program has determined that "climate change impacts are much more pronounced" in Alaska "than in other regions of the United States." Villages are being relocated as land slips into the sea, roads are melting, forests are burning, and the Iron Dog snowmobile race is being cancelled by rain. On Monday, Murkowski welcomed the Obama administration's decision to declare a "commercial fishery failure for the Yukon River Chinook salmon run" -- a collapse caused by global warming. These damages are threatening billions of dollars of losses to the Alaska economy, as Murkowski herself recognized in 2006. But now, she claims she is trying to block limits on global warming pollution to avoid "devastating unintended consequences on the economy." Unsurprisingly, Murkowski's push to stymie the EPA is being orchestrated by former Bush EPA officials who now lobby for electric utilities and other polluters.

GEORGE BUSH LOBBYISTS: The Washington Post has revealed that "two Washington lobbyists, Jeffrey R. Holmstead and Roger R. Martella, Jr.," helped Murkowski write her proposed amendment to block the Clear Air Act last fall. Holmstead and Martella just happen to be former top Bush EPA officials -- Holmstead was the assistant administrator for air and radiation from 2001 through 2005, and Martella was general counsel from 2007 to September 2008.  While with the Bush administration, Holmstead and Martella blocked climate change action and abetted the administration's denial of global warming. Holmstead is now a registered lobbyist for Bracewell and Guiliani, "and has lobbied for Ameren Corporation, an electrical utility company; Arch Coal, a coal producer; and Duke Energy, an electrical utility company." Martella is a lobbyist at Sidley Austin LLP, representing the National Alliance of Forest Owners and the Alliance of Food Associations. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) learned that Murkowski has received at least $126,550 from Mr. Holmstead's firm and clients since 2004. "Given how much money Jeff Holmstead and his clients have contributed to Sen. Murkowski," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said it is "no wonder she let him craft legislation."

MURKY DEMOCRATS: Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard reports that Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) is likely to support Murkowski's climate catastrophe campaign. Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) "have been floated as possible sign-ons." In April 2009, these murky Democrats voted to preserve the filibuster threat against any clean energy legislation, even though they represent states on the front lines of the climate crisis. Dorgan, buoyed by coal interests, reiterated yesterday that he opposes action to reduce global warming pollution. He says Obama's plan "makes no sense" even though his state has been ravaged by record floods and has vast renewable energy resources.  Lincoln, who has taken nearly a million dollars in polluter cash, said when she took over the Senate Agriculture Committee that it isn't her "preference to move on cap-and-trade legislation in the Senate this year." Landrieu has taken an oil-soaked stand "against forcing petrochemical companies" to "bear the brunt of new costs." Nelson worries that climate legislation "could have a negative impact on our economy," even though unusual heat waves killed thousands of cattle in Nebraska last year. Webb told Mother Jones that "the regulatory power of the executive branch" should only be "applied narrowly and in strict conformity with the Constitution and clear legislation enacted by the Congress." Webb's concerns about presidential overreach are conveniently in line with his professed lack of concern for the climate crisis. Since 2008, Webb has opposed "things like emission standards" for global warming pollution. Webb also opposes President Obama's climate plan, instead working with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to promote a nuclear-industry subsidy plan. Webb unfortunately has yet to recognize that fighting climate change is not only vital to restoring our economy but to preserving our national security.

CLEAN ECONOMY RULES: The rules that Murkowski and others are attempting to block are in fact long overdue. After years of denial, suppression, and delay, the U.S. government finally recognized that greenhouse gases are dangerous pollutants under the Clean Air Act in December. This spring, global warming standards for motor vehicles that have been applauded by the auto industry will be finalized. These standards will clean up the air, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and revitalize an industry battered by competition from automakers in countries that make more efficient cars. In concert with the transportation sector rules, the EPA will begin the process of limiting greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial polluters, like coal-fired power plants, oil refiners, and methane-emitting landfills. Only 14,000 industrial pollution sources nationwide would be covered by the rules, 11,000 of which are currently covered by the Clean Air Act permitting requirements already. The right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce is threatening to sue to block these safeguards, claiming they are a "surefire recipe for a double-dip recession -- or worse." In reality, the tailored pollution limits would begin stemming climate change, reduce the 20,000 deaths each year from oil and coal pollution, and spur a wave of investment in clean energy jobs.


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