Big oil and dirty coal are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to stop Congress from passing new clean-energy legislation, and now they are trying to gut one of our nation's most important environmental laws, the Clean Air Act.
Just last month, President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency moved to enforce the Clean Air Act. The EPA declared that global-warming pollution endangers human health and welfare and announced plans to limit emissions from the biggest polluters. Now this plan is under attack in Congress by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and other friends of big coal and oil, and faces a crucial vote in mid-January.
Sen. Murkowski wants to bail out big polluters by blocking Obama and the 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. Her “Dirty Air Act of 2010” would block EPA from limiting CO2 emissions.
After years of research, scientific debate, court cases, public hearings and comments, Sen. Murkowski is suggesting that we simply choose to "unlearn" that global warming is happening and that it will be dangerous to human health and welfare.
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.
EPA plans to limit the new common-sense, economically feasible regulations to only the largest polluters. Suggestions that EPA plans to regulate farms, schools, hospitals, cows and Dunkin' Donuts are simply false — EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said as much on numerous occasions. Those statements attempting to scare small businesses are merely misleading smears designed to derail any limits on polluters.
Sen. Murkowski may say her amendment is just a one-year timeout, but we've already had a nearly decade-long "timeout" as pundits for big oil and coal had their way. The clean-energy economy and action to curb global warming can no longer be held hostage by petty politics and partisan obstructionism. We can't choose to deny that this pollution is harmful any longer.
Instead of looking for ways to delay action, Congress needs to finalize comprehensive clean-energy and climate legislation as soon possible. Missouri’s senators must say no to this fast-approaching amendment blocking EPA action on global-warming emissions from the largest polluters. More important, it is time Missouri’s senators strongly support clean-energy and climate legislation that will mean less pollution, new industries, more jobs and greater security right here at home.
Melissa K. Hope is the associate regional representative for the Sierra Club. She lives in Jefferson City.