Should Congress or the EPA act to address the threat of global warming? Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Congress must act – and she’s right. The House passed legislation last year, and recently Senators Kerry and Lieberman introduced a very different approach called the American Power Act. But both bills would cut carbon pollution, curb our dependence on oil from unstable regions of the world and create millions of new clean energy jobs according to a new study from the Peterson Institute.
But within the next couple of weeks the Senate may well decide to do “none of the above.” Senator Lisa Murkowski is proposing legislation to strip EPA of all authority to reduce carbon pollution, make us more reliant on foreign oil, and do nothing to help American manufacturing compete with China or other nations in clean energy technologies.
Sen. Murkowski’s bill would nullify EPA’s finding of scientific fact that greenhouse gases cause harmful global warming – a finding that forms the legal basis for any further steps EPA can take to address carbon pollution. A vote for Murkowski’s resolution is a vote against the strong scientific consensus that climate change is a real threat we must avoid. Just earlier this week, the National Academy of Sciences reaffirmed that consensus when it described the likelihood that much of global warming is not caused by human activities as “vanishingly small.”
Sen. Murkowski’s bill would make us more reliant on foreign oil. It would dismantle the government’s program to reduce carbon pollution from cars and trucks – a program that U.S. automakers and the Obama Administration agreed last year to put in place – which will save Americans more than 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the affected vehicles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. At oil prices of $80 a barrel, that’s more than $80 billion worth of foreign oil Americans will not have to buy thanks to these standards.
Sen. Murkowski’s bill would do little or nothing for American manufacturers at a time when many are struggling to recover in these tough economic times. For American manufacturers hoping to compete with Chinese companies entering the clean energy, Sen. Murkowski’s approach would provide no assistance or incentive to innovate.
And Sen. Murkowski’s bill is outright opposed by American auto manufacturers. That’s because the agreement the Obama Administration and automakers reached last year also included California and 13 other states that agreed to set aside their own regulations of automobile emissions. With no national program, the agreement would fall and states would be free once again to move forward independently, leaving the automobile industry without the nationwide uniformity that it has described as vital to its business.
The Senate should reject this “do nothing” approach and get back to the important task of passing climate and energy legislation.