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It's about carbon, not Congress

murkowskicarbonnotcongress.JPG

If I saw the Senate debate over Lisa Murkowski's effort to bar the EPA from regulating carbon happening anywhere else, I'd sigh and tell myself that these folks simply don't know much about the Senate. But this debate is happening in the Senate! It's as if they've not been paying attention to, well, themselves. And whatever faults I attributed to the United States Senate, being insufficiently interested in itself was not one of them.

But let's recap. Murkowski has based her argument on "the undisputed fact that climate policy should be written here in Congress." She is not saying that climate change isn't happening and thus there's no need to regulate carbon. She's just saying Congress should do the job.

Okay. There is currently a bill called the American Power Act. It was written by Joe Lieberman, John Kerry and Lindsey Graham. It is a comprehensive -- if imperfect -- approach to regulating carbon emissions. And it includes EPA preemption. That is to say, if it passes, the EPA will be barred from acting. And as the construction of that bill suggests, liberals like Kerry are fully willing to preempt the EPA as soon as Congress commits to a path of action.

But Murkowski isn't standing in support of that bill, or offering a package of modifications that would lead her to support that bill. She's just trying to block the EPA. As such, it's very hard to credit her argument that she's attempting to protect Congress' right to act. Congress has the right to act, and there's even a vehicle for action. Murkowski, whose support could be decisive to the passage of a climate bill, does not seem interested in getting one. Rather, she seems interested in blocking the regulation of carbon. And that, not congressional prerogative, is what this argument is about.

Photo credit: By J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 12:57 PM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Comments

I see this all the time in the politics swamp. One group says I am opposed to X, then the 2nd group says we wrote this bill and if you are opposed to X YOU HAVE TO VOTE FOR THIS BILL or YOU ARE BAD and an obstructionist!

Saw it with border security. Demoncrats say hey those republicans refuse to help us secure the border, which is LOL laughable. The proof? The repubs refuse to reconcile the demoncrat bill which proposes some border security BUT GIVEs FULL AMNESTY TO 20 MILLION CRIMINALS. What a swamp of pc stench.

And this article says the same thing. If you want to stop the epa YOU HAVE TO VOTE FOR OUR BILL. Laughable nonsense if it were not so serious. Hey, could you wait until we get out of this recession before you bankrupt US further?

Posted by: pervleft | June 10, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

No, it's about Senators from carbon-emission producing fuel states collecting campaign contributions from those industries. Murkowski = oil. Rockefeller = coal. And on down the line.

Posted by: Mimikatz | June 10, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Rather, she seems interested in blocking the regulation of carbon. You seem suprised.

Posted by: obrier2 | June 10, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"Demoncrats say . . . "

I'm reading, and then I want to stop reading. "Dumbocrats, Demoncrats, Rethuglicans, Repuglicans, Repiglicans . . . " that's stuff is really annoying.

If you have a legitimate point, you can make it without resorting to name-calling. And ALL-CAPS. But at least, you can do it without pointless name-calling.

There's a pretty good argument against regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. And it's one that needs to be made, before everything ends up being regulated as a pollutant. Murkowski apparently doesn't want to go that far.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 10, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

This post right here is why Ezra Klein kicks so much ass. Obama and the Dems should just stand at a podium and read a transcript of this blog. These arguments are so much clearer than anything we hear from them.

Some advice for the president: Hire This Man!!

Posted by: Adam_W | June 10, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

This post right here is why Ezra Klein kicks so much ass. Obama and the Dems should just stand at a podium and read a transcript of this blog. These arguments are so much clearer than anything we hear from them.

Some advice for the president: Hire This Man!!

Posted by: Adam_W | June 10, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"She is not saying that climate change isn't happening and thus there's no need to regulate carbon. She's just saying Congress should do the job."

No she isn't saying that. She's saying it's the Congress's job to regulate or not regulate CO2. You leave out the not regulate aspect. We don't have to regulate CO2 at all if we don't want to, which I know Ezra make you and your fellow global warming, or is it climate change these days, alalmist foam at the mouth. It is most definitely not the goverment bureacay known as the EPA's job.

Posted by: RobT1 | June 10, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I think she's more interested in killing the EPA's ability to increase CAFE standards than she's worried about carbon pricing. This is the "by the way" provision in her bill that isn't getting as much notice.
As you showed on a previous plot, even Waxman-Markey wouldn't have a huge impact on CO2 emissions from cars. CAFE standards are a bigger issue for the oil industry's livelihood than any sort of climate bill.

Posted by: mschol17 | June 10, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"It is most definitely not the goverment bureacay known as the EPA's job." - RobT1

The Supreme Court says you are wrong:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/02/AR2007040200487.html

Posted by: jeirvine | June 10, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his comrades are trying to use the oil spill and the EPA (or Congress) to force another job-killing, economy-killing SCAM on the American people!

ALL regulations should be decided by Congress, not by unelected bureaucrats. Article I of the Constitution says that legislative power is vested in CONGRESS, not in Executive Branch agencies like the EPA.

We are not Venezuela (yet), where Obama-like dictator Chavez can use his agencies and thugs to force his will on people.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | June 10, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

No thinking American believes the ridiculous “man-made global warming” fairy tales!! Obama and his comrades themselves obviously don’t believe it. They are ready to let companies emit CO2 as long as they pay! And Gore bought an 8-million mansion on a BEACH as he was telling the oceans will take over beaches…

Those brainwashed to the point of wanting to destroy the economy to "prevent global warming" are behaving like the most primitive human beings who were duped into believing that human sacrifices would ensure them good weather. Human beings don't have the power to control climate! And killing the economy will not help the environment. Poor countries can't protect the environment. Just look at Haiti!

Posted by: AntonioSosa | June 10, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

jeirvine nails it.

The constitutional implications of Murkowski's bill passing are actually pretty complicated. The Supreme Court has said that the Clean Air Act FORCES the EPA to regulate carbon if it determines it's a threat. The EPA has made that determination, so now it legally HAS to regulate greenhouse gases.

Presumably Murkowski's resolution doesn't actually amend the Clean Air Act (I think you'd need 60 votes to do that). So where does it leave EPA? Will EPA have the legal responsibility to regulate carbon but no authority to do so? There's no WAY that's legal. Or does it just knock out the current set of EPA regs on this topic, forcing them to just go back to the drawing board?

Posted by: NS12345 | June 10, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

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