WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mike Crapo has joined a Republican senator from Alaska in fighting the Environmental Protection Agency's move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, refineries, manufacturers and other large emitters.
Sen. Lisa Murkowksi, R-Alaska, announced last month she would seek to keep the EPA from drawing up such rules. She did it by filing a "disapproval resolution," a rarely used procedural move that prohibits rules written by executive branch agencies from taking effect. Crapo, R-Idaho, was one of the original co-sponsors of the resolution, and Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, has also signed on as one of the co-sponsors. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, backs a similar measure in the House of Representatives.
"Using this law to regulate these emissions would simply be devastating for our economy," Crapo said in a statement. "I am also very much concerned that the Administration and its allies are trying to use the Clean Air Act to force Congress into passing the ill-advised 'cap and trade' bills that have failed to earn the support of the American people."
Last month, Murkowski warned there would be dire economic consequences if the EPA -- rather than Congress -- writes the rules for how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
On the other side: the Obama administration, environmentalists, clean air advocates and high-profile elected officials such as Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose state had to fight the EPA under the Bush administration to allow California to adopt tougher emissions standards. Schwarzenegger urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to oppose "any effort in the Senate to block EPA's efforts to enforce the Clean Air Act to fight global climate change."
"Instead, please do everything you can to ensure that the Senate passes the strong clean energy and global warming legislation that the country needs to build a clean energy economy and protect the environment," he wrote Reid last month.
Murkowski has 40 co-sponsor -- mostly Republicans, with several Democrats -- but her move has prompted an aggressive response by the EPA and environmental groups. Several environmental coalitions launched a radio and television advertising campaign in Alaska and Washington, D.C., focusing on the role two industry lobbyists had in writing Murkowski's original proposal last fall.
EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has urged senators to reject Murkowski's proposal, saying in a statement that it "put politics over science" and would require the EPA to ignore not only the Supreme Court's directive but "the evidence before our own eyes." At its core, Jackson said, Murkowski's resolution "is not about preventing or postponing regulation, but about denying the established scientific fact that greenhouse gases threaten the health of our people."
The EPA is working on regulations that will limit emissions by large producers of greenhouse gases as part of its compliance with a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring the agency to determine whether greenhouse gases endanger the country's health and welfare.
Both the White House and congressional leaders have said they prefer that Congress write a law that would cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the legislation has stalled in the Senate, and if Congress fails to act, the EPA's rules could set the standard for greenhouse gas emissions from big, stationary sources of pollution.
Murkowski's disapproval resolution would throw out the process by which the EPA found that greenhouse gases endanger public health, said Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the committee that has done the most work on climate-change legislation: the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Crapo also sits on that committee.
The EPA has been fighting Murkowski since she introduced a proposal last fall that called for limiting for one year the agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gases. Murkowski argued then that it would give Congress time to work on its own climate legislation so that what she called "the worst of our options, EPA regulation," didn't take effect before lawmakers completed their work.
Murkowski's resolution goes now to Boxer's committee; if Boxer refuses to take it up, Murkowski needs 30 fellow senators to agree to have it heard on the floor of the Senate. Once there, it needs only a majority to pass and can't be filibustered. Even if it were to pass the Senate, it's unlikely it would advance in the House of Representatives.