U.S. Senate Narrowly Defeats Murkowski Amendment: Sign of Hope, or Close Call?

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate narrowly voted (53-47) to defeat Senator Lisa Murkowski’s attempt to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing new limits on carbon emissions. Manuel Oliva, CI’s director of U.S. Policy, reacts to the vote.

As I read yesterday’s “New York Times” article about the defeat of the amendment from Senator Murkowski, it was hard to understand how we got here, how protecting the environment and our health is such a bad thing. How “even if it is the right thing to do, now is not the time to do it,” as Senator Tom Coburn stated.

The purpose of this amendment was to take away the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon pollution. The argument that the role of imposing limits on carbon emissions is the responsibility of the U.S. Congress (and not the EPA) might be a good one, if Congress were willing to act. The impacts of climate change are becoming more evident every day, and immediate action, no matter by whom, seems like a better choice than none at all.

But Congress cannot prevent the EPA from acting and then refuse to act itself; this makes it clear that the proposed amendment is really just an excuse for continued inaction. In general, I believe it’s the place of government to protect its citizens, and it seems to me that this is the purpose of more than one branch of government – each branch doing its part when the other cannot or won’t.

Fortunately, Murkowski’s proposal was rejected. I was heartened by the results of the vote, but disappointed that it was so close.

Learn more about CI’s role in U.S. climate policy.

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