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Most Senators Don't Think Climate Science is Murky

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By Dan Lashof

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said today that she is putting on hold her effort to block EPA’s determination that carbon pollution is a danger to public health and the environment. This is a strong indication that she doesn’t think a majority of the Senate would vote for her resolution disapproving EPA’s endangerment finding.

Senator Murkowski has claimed that her resolution “has nothing to do with the science of global climate change.”  But in fact the resolution would nullify EPA’s determination that carbon pollution is dangerous. So a vote for the resolution would be a vote to deny the overwhelming scientific record upon which EPA based its finding. That’s something most Senators don’t appear willing to do.

So despite all the noise in the blogosphere about stolen emails and botched footnotes, a majority of the Senate seems to understand that in the atmosphere carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant.

The question now is whether the Senate will act on that understanding by enacting comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that would cut carbon pollution, create clean energy jobs and enhance our security. President Obama convened a bipartisan group of 14 Senators at the White House this week and urged them to pass such a bill, giving the effort a significant lift.

Meanwhile efforts to prevent or delay long overdue actions under current law to cut global warming pollution will continue. Senator Murkowski said that she suspended her effort while she waits to see what becomes of a proposal from Senator Rockefeller to block EPA action for two years. That ill-advised effort (S.3072) would block any work under the Clean Air Act on standards to curb to curb global warming pollution from power plants and other industrial sources for at least two years.  The result would be an even longer delay because all preparatory work would also be brought to a halt.

Although Rockefeller’s approach does not directly deny the science of global warming (and unlike Murkowski’s resolution, doesn’t qualify for fast-track consideration in the Senate) it would be a huge step in the wrong direction. Given that most Senators appear to accept that carbon pollution poses a danger to public health and the environment, the way forward is to enact comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, not endorse or accept further delay.

This was originally posted on the NRDC's Switchboard.


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