The American Power Act, the bill that would give EPA new tools to regulate carbon pollution, make us more energy secure as a nation, and enhance our competitiveness, is the best chance we have for a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill this year, maybe even this decade.
Instead of rallying around Senators Kerry and Lieberman’s “all of the above” strategy, some senators appear to be for “none of the above.” A resolution introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski would strip EPA of all of its existing authority under the current Clean Air Act to reduce carbon pollution. That would make us more dependent on foreign oil, do nothing to help American manufacturing compete with China or other nations in clean energy technologies, and cripple efforts to address global warming.
How is this possible?
Basically, 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 bill is a vote against the strong scientific consensus that climate change is a real threat we must avoid.
Sen. Murkowski’s bill would also block a key step in fighting America’s oil addiction. 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. The program 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 also lead to greater red tape and conflicting regulations for our auto manufacturers (and their suppliers) at a time when many are struggling to recover in these tough economic times. 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.
It’s truly ironic that even as we watch what may end up being one of the most serious environmental and ecological disasters in our nation's history – the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – some senators are actively trying to block pollution regulations and hamstring the EPA's ability to protect the public. This is both inexcusable and unforgivable.