Murkowski’s Dirty Air Act narrowly rejected by Senate

On Friday the Senate voted on the Murkowski resolution, known in environmental circles as the “Dirty Air Act.”  The proposal failed by six votes, despite the support of all Repubicans and six Democrats.

For a while, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has been pushing this resolution to veto the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health.  The endangerment finding allows the EPA to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act, so Murkowski’s amendment would have blocked new fuel economy and pollution standards for vehicles.  According to Lisa Jackson, the proposal would have increased our dependence on oil by 455 million barrels.

That such an idea would be considered while the latest oil-related disaster devastates the Gulf, is ironic, to say the least.  But I would hesitate to declare the Senate’s decision a triumph for the clean energy movement.  The Murkowski resolution was, essentially, an effort by Congress to overturn scientific findings — and it came only six votes short of passing the Senate.

Nevertheless, the Dirty Air Act had little chance of passing the House, and Obama had threatened to veto it.  So the Senate votes were mostly symbolic.  Although some Senators who supported the amendment might back a climate bill, their choice to side with Big Oil here should not go unnoticed.

In a totally unrelated story, Lisa Murkowski is the Senate’s third largest recipient of oil money, with $209,826 from the industry in 2010.  She’s also accepted more than $172,000 from coal interests.

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