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Proposal to hamstring EPA nearing a vote


The Senate is likely to vote tomorrow on Lisa Murkowski's proposal to bar the EPA from regulating carbon emissions as a pollutant. Whatever happens in the Senate, Murkowski's proposal won't go into effect. It isn't likely to pass the House, and if it did pass the House, it'll be vetoed by the president. But if it gets 51 votes in the Senate, it's going to be another grim sign for efforts to address climate change, as it'll show that the Senate is much more united on blocking regulations than creating them.

And it may well get 51 votes. Jay Rockefeller, for instance, represents the coal capital that is West Virginia and has announced that he'll vote for the bill. He's part of the asymmetry in energy politics where states that are adversely affected are very aggressive in opposing action while politicians from states that would likely benefit from a move toward clean energy -- think the Southwest -- aren't similarly parochial.

Photo credit: Murkowski's office

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Next: Reconciliation


Why can the minority party, the GOP, block votes from even happening, but the majority party can't?

Doesn't the fact this vote is even happening mean the Dem leadership secretly wants this bill to pass?

I clearly recall the majority GOP party blocking Democratic-sponsored votes over and over again.

With Lincoln's victory yesterday, and Obama's clear move to center-right, and Clinton's attacks on Unions in recent days, and an economic policy of recession-deficit-mgmt, and passage of this bill, it must finally be clear to all progressives that the Dems we elected were actually imposters. And you're gonna vote for these bums? Not me.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 9, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Lomillialor: Well, it is a "resolution of disapproval" or whatever, which can't be filibustered. So there's that.

Posted by: genericOnlineID | June 9, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Hamstring the EPA? The thing should be abolished.

The Constitution should have hamstrung the politicians in creating the thing.

Posted by: msoja | June 9, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Ezra: For a resolution of disapproval, would differing bills require a conference committee? If so, can't leadership appoint members who won't compromise on a passable bill?

Posted by: frankiannuzzi | June 9, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Abolish the EPA! Give me more SO2 and NOx in the air. I hate this whole being able to breathe thing without dying young from lung disease. Oh, and eff clean water.

Posted by: genericOnlineID | June 9, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Without the EPA our forests would have perished years ago. European forests were indeed dying until they adopted similar pollution control standards.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 9, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

--"Without the EPA our forests would have perished years ago."--

Good lord, where do you come up with this stuff?

The EPA is just another instance of the government jumping on the already rolling wagon of environmental debate already happening among ordinary people, sticking it's fat, incompetent nose in, grabbing all the power, and creating another hopeless, bureaucratic spectacle of everything. And it's one more reason to hate Richard Nixon.

And if you *still* want to see if your water is safe, you best hire a private service to conduct the tests. The competence of the EPA is entirely suspect, just like every other federal agency.

Posted by: msoja | June 9, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Msoja: "The competence of the EPA is entirely suspect, just like every other federal agency."

Just like the competence of the Marines and the Navy is suspect, as federal agencies, right, Msoja? Why do you hate the troops?

No, wait, since you hate federalism, why do you hate America, which only has an identity as the federal union of various states? Why do you hate America?

Posted by: tompaine1792 | June 9, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

--"No, wait, since you hate federalism, why do you hate America, which only has an identity as the federal union of various states?"--

Oh, yer a bright one, ain't ya?

If I don't like the monstrosity the U.S. government has become, I hate America.

Go play moron somewhere else.

Posted by: msoja | June 9, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse


If I had to choose between the professionals at EPA and some oil-addled version of Palin a few years and several hard miles down the road, and seriously put up wet, I'm banking with the scientists. Spill baby spill. How's that working out for ya?

Posted by: aprilglaspie | June 9, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

We outsource our mfg mainly because labor is cheaper AND because many other countries don't have an equivalent of an EPA protecting their environment. We effectively export pollution because of this.

Also, msoja is clearly a young ideologue who doesn't remember how polluted our lakes and rivers were 40 years ago.

Basically, msoja is another ideologue who doesn't know what he's talking about and can't conceive of the damage he'd cause if people like him had power.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 9, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I just wonder how much Ezra gets paid by the Democratic party to write such trash...?

Posted by: WHOOSONPHIRST | June 9, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Msoja, while I appreciate your nuanced comments, you didn't in fact respond to my first point. You clearly claimed that all federal agencies are suspect in their competence, and cannot be relied upon to perform their prescribed roles. Do you or do you not suspect the competence of the Armed Forces, which are clearly agencies of the Federal Government? Do you or do you not hate the troops? Are you or have you ever been a traitor?

Posted by: tompaine1792 | June 9, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

--"Spill baby spill. How's that working out for ya?"--

The oil companies are regulated out the yin yang.

How's that working out for you?

The banking industry is regulated from here to kingdom come.

How's that working out for you?

Fannie? Freddie? Automobiles? Health care, the most heavily regulated industry in the country, spiraling out of control.

How about the FDA and Vioxx? Or the FDA and the peanut guys?

How'd you like them tricks with the swine flu vaccine down at the CDC? Real impressive.

The SEC and Bernie Madoff? Or the SEC and derivatives? They handled that well, didn't they?

The FAA is a disaster. How many dollars already wasted on an air traffic control upgrade that will be way outdated by the time they figure it out, if they ever do?

And NOAA? Aren't they mixed up in the climate change fraud? Or was that NASA?

Quick, name the NASA mission where swaths of people working nine years shot $273 million dollars into the Antarctic Ocean, and they didn't even mean to? No, not the $260 million dollar Genesis mission that crashed in Utah. The other one.

You *know* what they say about government work, don't you? You know why they say that, don't you?

Posted by: msoja | June 9, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

--"Also, msoja is clearly a young ideologue who doesn't remember how polluted our lakes and rivers were 40 years ago."--

I used to swim in the Ohio River, forty years ago. More recently, I've kayaked the same area extensively. It's only marginally cleaner, now. You still shouldn't eat the fish, for instance.

Now, I live in TVA country. You know, the big, seven state, government-chartered power company. After seventy years of TVA mismanagement (not to mention all the fun they had at Oak Ridge), it's still not recommended that you eat the fish. The TVA's coal ash spill a year and a half ago didn't help anything, and the TVA lawyers are working their standard defense that they're not liable because, you see, they're the government. One judge has already ruled out certain types of lawsuits. A lot of people are pretty upset.

In fact, North Carolina keeps trying to sue the TVA because the TVA, which owns and runs quite a few coal fired plants, has exempted itself from a lot of the rules and regulations the feds have imposed on private sector coal plants. And the TVA uses the "we're the government" defense to stall things. You could look it up.

But, hey, Obama really cares, you know? And the bureaucracy is 110% behind him.

Posted by: msoja | June 9, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

--"Are you or have you ever been a traitor?"--

You must be from the interrogation wing of the wing nut brigade.

Posted by: msoja | June 9, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

ps. Regarding North Carolina and the TVA, I probably should have mentioned that the people of N.C. are bothered by the pollutants that blow out of the TVA stacks from Tennessee. That's why they've been going round and round in the courts, for years. A private corp would have had to curtail the problem by now, but the TVA keeps blowing its government smoke.

Posted by: msoja | June 9, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

--"Do you or do you not suspect the competence of the Armed Forces, which are clearly agencies of the Federal Government?"--

Just so I don't leave you too full of the echoes in that potato of yours...

Your "Armed Forces" is beautifully loaded, as a phrase, yet inanely (thank yourself) positioned as part of something meant to be an argument, but comes off as more like a kangaroo court proceeding, with you lending it none of the dignity usually accorded such proceedings.

There are the *armed forces* and then there is the bureaucracy, or several bureaucracies, that shuffle the fighting men around, supply them with weapons and other tools, etc.

In your dullness, you would like me to insult the honor, integrity, and/or competence of the fighting men and women of the armed forces, and there is no reason to do it. They deserve only the highest praise.

But while the soldiers are agents of the Federal Gummint, they are not "agencies" of same in the context of the current discussion. Nor are they to be impugned with the failings (or praised for the successes) of the larger behemoth. The Department of Defense is a very large department, and much of what transpires within its purview is riddled with inanity, corruption, and incompetence.

"Yeah, I'm sorry you have a head like a potato. I really am."

Posted by: msoja | June 10, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

And while I'm at it, I notice nobody bothered to even try to argue that the country's founding document legitimizes the establishment of the EPA.

Instead, I got a bunch of ad hom, subject changes, straw men, and other misdirections. Typical fare from the left.

Posted by: msoja | June 10, 2010 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Oh, msoja. Where to begin. Clearly raw nerves were touched. Unfortunately for me, I haven't nearly the time you apparently do...but here goes anyway, quickly.

Do you seriously think oil companies are under-regulated?

How about this: they're not "rightly-regulated." Better?

Ditto for the banking industry. Would you seriously argue for less oversight?

It isn't difficult to trace the steps taken over the past few election cycles to dismantle departments, toss out regulations, replace department staffs with hyperpartisan ideologues who were biased in favor of big business and against government and regulation. I was in the news. Often. I'll be happy to provide links even though you could find them easily.

The point is, it puts the lie to your claim that any industry is "spiraling out of control" due to regulation.

What we need is government working more in concert with industry in pursuit of common goals, in replacement of the "government isn't the solution; government is the problem" false dichotomy promulgated by, and amplified since, Reagan. Government is neither THE problem nor THE solution. It is A solution, and it has problems. What a surprise: a human enterprise isn't perfect.

It's a lot less perfect as a result of people always trying to shoot it down. Is it any wonder U.S. government workers are so demotivated? They're among the most reviled on earth.

One thing's for sure. Unlike what biased ideologues would say--and you may be one--there is virtually no one who subscribes to the straw man argument that government is the solution to all our problems. When have you ever heard that claim, except hearsay by opponents of government?

But it's when you refer to "the climate change fraud" that you reveal your true colors. If you knew as a scientist does (and you do pretend to be knowledgeable) what was going on there, you would know that, while minor errors of judgment were made--more minor that what is typically seen on a daily basis in the average professional office, and even then requiring scouring through years of emails to find few isolated instances--the major gripes stem from lack of understanding of such things as what a mathematician means by the word "trick."

And of course, since a couple of NASA missions didn't go as planned, this proves that private sector would have done better. Hate to break the news to you but...its record in space is worse.

"...I notice nobody bothered to even try to argue that the country's founding document legitimizes the establishment of the EPA."

And this is significant because...

"I got a bunch of ad hom..."

This amusing observation followed these "pro homs":

"Go play moron somewhere else."

"You must be from the interrogation wing of the wing nut brigade."

"Yeah, I'm sorry you have a head like a potato. I really am."

And then this...

"Typical fare from the left."

You really should work on your bias problem. You're far too intelligent for it.

Posted by: CuckooRaja | June 10, 2010 3:29 AM | Report abuse

I have never understood how how an agency that was created to deal with pollution got into the business of regulating a substance that is exhaled by every animal on the face of the planet anyway. But, it just goes to show that elections do have consequences. A far left wing guy gets elected president which gives him the power to appoint government bureacrats, including the burecrats who run the EPA, and those bureacrats will of course have the same far left wing views (including the left wing driven scam called global warming) of the guy who appointed them. Surprise Surprise! If you don't like it vote the Democrats out in this coming November and vote Obama out in 2012. I am.

Posted by: RobT1 | June 10, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Msoja--I need a bit more clarity as to why the Marines are not an agency of the federal government exactly like the ATF or the IRS, and why the employees of the Marines are Homeric heroes, let down by a perfidious bureaucracy (or, you know, what they might call "Logistics") that is heavily staffed by Marines. At exactly what point does the command and supply chain tip over into governmental bureaucracy? Please show your work.

Posted by: tompaine1792 | June 10, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Again, Climate Change is real and happening. There is no debate, just clever PR by deniers. We need to really look to the future such as the clean technology and green sources that have been mentioned so much. Nuclear, offshore drilling and clean coals are all jokes that will not solve our energy crisis. If I was a billionaire maybe I could fund a think tank to put out propoganda like the Coke Family. But money buys votes on Capital Hill thanks to Big Oil, Big Coal and other relics in energy undustry who are looking to the future. There will be many more Massey and BP disasters in teh future.

Posted by: Brainny | June 10, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Rob T1, read a book and try to understand science without dumbing it down like saying we all exhale CO2. The crap coming of out the Arctic permafrost, factory animal farms and smokestacks are ay many many more times the rate than what CO2 comes out of our bodies. Stop drinking the KoolAide. My grandmotehr always used to say some people are unreachable, You are one of them.

Posted by: Brainny | June 10, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Servicemen and women are clearly federal employees, and their branches of military are clearly federal agencies. This is why broad, sweeping arguments about the efficacy, or lack there of, of the government is a stupid stupid argument to make. The government does some things very well. It does others not so well. It does yet more things less well than it could. Similarly, the market does something well, others horribly, and others well, but with some boundaries.

And really, there are very few people left who really think we should have some truly minimalist government or Soviet-style beaurocracy. It's all about where the mix of market and government is at, and making adjustments one way or another to address the country's problems.

Without the EPA there would be little market incentive to restrict pollution because polluting is cheap and easy to get away with if there's no watchdog. Conversely, there's no earthly reason for the government to set prices for retail TVs.

In a world where we're going to pay billions of dollars to clean up an oil spill whose likely cause is the failure of the company to maintain proper safety equipment, there's clearly some deficiency in our regulatory scheme. Maybe oil companies need to be regulated more, maybe they just need different, more effective regulations. It's just silly, however, to suggest that we'd be better off if they regulated themselves. They've clearly shown they can't do that.

And the ability of administrative agencies to regulate private industry is long settled constitutional law. You might as well argue about the constitutionality of federal taxes. Of course, people still do, but they're fools, and usually end up paying huge fines or doing time.

Posted by: MosBen | June 10, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Using the EPA to regulate Carbon is like using the Coast Guard to patrol mountain-tops because that's where the sea water comes from.

Posted by: ecocampaigner | June 10, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

"Now, I live in TVA country. You know, the big, seven state, government-chartered power company. After seventy years of TVA mismanagement (not to mention all the fun they had at Oak Ridge), it's still not recommended that you eat the fish." Etc.

You have to love the argument that the solution to this problem is to eliminate government oversight entirely, and throw ourselves at the mercy of private industry. Because if there's one thing the 19th century taught us, it's that industry, when left alone, acts for the benefit of the public good. I mean, it's not like that experience was what led people of the era to start creating a regulatory system in the first place.

Pointing out some of the failings of that regulatory oversight doesn't mean you scrap it entirely. That's flatly illogical. You don't build a new house without a roof simply because your last house had a leak - you patch the leak. You don't refuse to take your kids to the doctor because of malpractice fears - you make sure you have a good doctor. This is simple common sense.

Nitpicking the solutions to a problem won't make the problem go away.

Posted by: simpleton1 | June 10, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Granted, ecocampaigner, I think there are better ways to limit carbon, but it's certainly not such a stretch from other pollutants that they regulate.

Posted by: MosBen | June 10, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Ah, the TVA, the Tennessee Valley Authority, that vainglorious federal agency that abides its own rules while making and enforcing electricity rules it sets for nine million people in the Southeast.

I warned after the Kingston coal-ash disaster in TN that TVA should not be in charge of the cleanup. But TVA went ahead anyway in its incompetence and finally the EPA took charge, two inept federal agencies vying for the ineptitude prize.

Well these two expert agencies contracted to have the ash hauled to a poor county in Alabama only to have that contract blow up into bankruptcy and a Mobile company refusing to take any more of the leached runoff from the dump site.

In a multi-reversal of TVA management, TVA will now bury the remaining ash in the retaining pond at the Kingston site.
TVA is “reorganizing” to a thousand-person management tree because of the Kingston debacle. (They’re still looking for the “root cause” of the dam collapse; any fool knows it was management’s fault.)

For a 1944 propaganda version of how a benevolent government can come to an area and train stupid people (as depicted in the video) how to farm while they stole their land from under their noses for other purposes.

This short video chillingly tells of the ultimate aims of the TVA. Watch out! Midwest, Northeast and Western U.S.

For more on the TVA see

Ernest Norsworthy

Posted by: emnorsworthy | June 10, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse


Actually it is a great stretch of the EPA. The intent of the law was clearly to clean the air of pollutants, as defined as being directly harmful to human health. C02 is not directly harmful to human health, it comes out of our own mouths.

The EPA is relying on a series of unproven cause and effect relationships to find harmfulness. Man's emissions theoretically cause C02 to increase, theoretically increasing water vapor feedback, theoretically causing global warming, which theoretically might be bad in some ways.

We've got an energy department for regulating energy, and we've got transportation dept for regulating fuel economy. What expertise does the EPA evn have on fuel standards or energy production outside global warming policy advocates?

Posted by: ecocampaigner | June 10, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Brainny, of course climate change is real and is happening. It has ALWAYS been real... before human being existed. What is NOT real, what is a HOAX is that human beings are causing it.

When it became evident that the earth was not warming, the hoaxers came out with “climate change,” which made the hoax even more ridiculous! Even the words "climate change" are NONSENSE. By its very nature, climate changes. The climate on earth (and in other planets) has ALWAYS CHANGED and will continue to CHANGE, no matter what we do.

And it’s even more absurd to claim that humans are responsible for climate change! It's like saying "Wet Rain" and then blaming humans for rain being wet! No matter what we do, rain will always be wet!

Posted by: AntonioSosa | June 10, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

CuckooRaja is right about Mr. Mazola but at 3Am I'd guess he scuttled off to bed rather than defend his absurd claims against the EPA. It's always amusing to hear people talk about "what a wonderful world it could be" with no government revenuers hanging around.

I can remember that many people in West Virginia (for example) used to blithly dump their trash by the roadside or even tipping it down in the creek in their backyards not wanting to pay money to some darn-fool regulated dump. Giving companies the free hand to regulate themselves is a receipe for disaster.


Posted by: chrisbrown12 | June 10, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Ernest Norsworthy. I blogged on my own site about finding your website a little over a month ago. You've got a ton of stuff there, a great store of info, with great commentary on the criminal enterprise that is the TVA. As I've said before, Tom Kilgore, CEO of that monstrosity, "is a bald faced liar, and a chiseling incompetent".

Keep up the good work, man.

Posted by: msoja | June 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

--"-I need a bit more clarity as to why the Marines"--

Aren't you the cutest thing?

Gotta go. It's like the weekend, only sooner.

Posted by: msoja | June 10, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

You are right, @MosBen. More than 31,000 American scientists have signed onto a petition that states, "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."

We must stop Obama and his comrades from forcing us to swallow another job-killing, economy-killing SCAM!

Posted by: AntonioSosa | June 10, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his comrades are using the oil spill and the EPA to force another criminal SCAM on the American people and further destroy the U.S.

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 12:53 PM | Report abuse

June 11, 2010
SHAPIRO: Is President Obama better or worse than Jimmy Carter? BACHMANN: Worse. Easily worse. SHAPIRO: I agree. So far, you’d have to say he’s the worst president in United States history … BACHMANN: No question. No question. Hear other highlights of the interview at Big Government. Follow the link below.

Posted by: PaulRevere4 | June 11, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

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