Eroding North Alaskan bluff. Image credit:Science Dailly
Normally the New Year promises new endeavors, but it's only a week into 2010 and we're seeing some friends of the big polluters up to their same old tricks. This time it's Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
First, you'll recall that last month President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that global warming pollution endangers human health and welfare and announced plans to limit emissions from big polluters. It was a long time coming, but it was an important decision for the planet.
Now this plan is under attack in Congress by Sen. Murkowski and faces a crucial vote in mid-January.Senator Murkowski wants to bail out big polluters by blocking President Obama and EPA from taking action to limit emissions. She is proposing an amendment to the Senate's national debt ceiling bill - an amendment that would dismantle the Clean Air Act and put the public's health and safety at risk to global warming. The vote is January 20.
After years of research, scientific debate, court cases, public hearings and comments, Senator Murkowski's is suggesting that we simply choose to "un-learn" that global warming is happening and that it will be dangerous to human health and welfare. And no surprise here, Congress' biggest global warming denier, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, is already signing on to this amendment and pushing it just as hard as Sen. Murkowski.
But EPA is merely doing what the Clean Air Act already requires--and what it was ordered to do almost three years ago by the Supreme Court. And last month, more than 400,000 Americans submitted comments in favor of EPA's proposal to limit pollution from the biggest global warming polluters - among the highest number of comments ever submitted in favor of any proposal.
And the opponents of global warming action are trotting out the same old arguments, too. Suggestions that this EPA action means the agency plans to regulate farms, schools, hospitals, cows, and Dunkin' Donuts are simply false - EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said as much on numerous occasions. In reality, EPA plans to limit the new common sense, economically feasible regulations to only the largest polluters. Those statements attempting to scare small businesses are merely misleading smears designed to derail any limits on polluters.
Senator Murkowski may say her amendment is just a one-year time-out, but we've already had a nearly decade-long "time-out" and communities beginning to feel the impacts of climate change, in places like Alaska, simply cannot afford to take another time-out. We can't choose to deny that this pollution isn't harmful any longer (we're looking at you, Sen. Inhofe).
The clean energy economy can no longer be held hostage by petty politics and partisan obstructionism. We also cannot continue to let Big Coal and Oil push for loopholes and weakened pollution rules so they can keep making money.
Instead of looking for ways to delay action, senators need to finalize comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation as soon as soon possible - and more important in the short-term, they must say no to this amendment from Senator Murkowski.
You can urge your senators to do as much - tell them to vote no on Senator Murkowski's fast-approaching amendment blocking EPA action on global warming emissions from the largest polluters. We can't delay action on global warming.