It's about carbon, not Congress
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
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