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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R Ak)

Transportation Nation

Shall We Kick Off The Energy Debate?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in January with Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (at left) (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) -- The much-anticipated Senate debate over energy and climate change legislation is getting an early start.

Lawmakers are set to vote today on a GOP-backed resolution stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate carbon and other ‘greenhouse gasses’. The vote is shaping up as an early test of where lawmakers stand on curbing carbon emissions in advance of a full-blown energy policy debate set for July.

The EPA branded carbon an “endangerment” to human health in December, 2009, clearing the way for the agency to regulate it as a pollutant. That came after a Supreme Court decision ruling the agency had the power to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act.

But amid mounting global pressure for US action on climate change, the move was widely seen as the Obama Administration’s way to pressure reluctant lawmakers to act on carbon caps or face regulations from the EPA.

Still, Republicans decried EPA’s anti-carbon threatened rule-making as a power-grab.  Today’s vote, if successful and the bill becomes law, would strip EPA of the authority to make new carbon-control rules.

“The EPA intends to take control of climate policy.  Take it away from the Congress,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the resolution’s main sponsor. “This resolution is about protecting the economy and preventing agency overreach. It’s as simple as that,” she said.

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