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Murkowski's Showdown With The EPA

The Hill's Alex Bolton has a good preview of the Senate vote today on Lisa Murkowski's EPA resolution. This resolution, recall, would overturn the EPA's finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare. Not only would that stop the agency from cracking down on new coal plants and other greenhouse-gas emitters, but it would also scrap the new fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks that the Obama administration recently put in place. (It was the first time CAFE standards had been raised in 30 years.) Green groups have been hitting that latter point especially hard, noting that Murkowski's resolution would, in effect, "increase our dependence on oil... by billions of barrels."

The resolution only needs 51 votes to pass the Senate, and it's starting to pick up some Democratic support from coal-staters like West Virginia's John Rockefeller. Granted, even if it does squeak through the Senate, it won't get by the House and it certainly can't overcome an Obama veto. But passage isn't really the point. Republicans are trying to put pressure on Obama and the EPA not to regulate carbon. The GOP's excuse, as Lamar Alexander puts it, is that they want to send a "strong message" that carbon regulation "is a congressional responsibility and not the administration's." Except that Alexander and the rest of his Republican caucus have also opposed all congressional attempts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. In practice, the goal here is to ensure that nothing ever gets done about climate change at all.