With Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) announcing his support for Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) Resolution of Disapproval of the EPA's Endangerment Finding, the measure appears to be within reach of passing. Murkowski has 41 co-sponsors including three Democrats: Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
As it now stands, Murkowski will need the votes of at least seven Democrats, if the three Republicans who declined to co-sponsor also vote no. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine is most likely a no vote but this still leaves Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
Rockefeller had pushed for alternative legislation that would block the EPA from regulating industrial sources for two years, but he had trouble mustering support. His endorsement of the Murkowski resolution could provide cover to other Democrats who had supported his alternative effort. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Tim Johnson of South Dakota also co-sponsored Rockefeller's bill and should be viewed as potential swing votes in favor of Murkowksi's effort.
In a press release Rockefeller said the following:
"I have long maintained that the Congress - not the unelected EPA -- must decide major economic and energy policy. EPA regulation will have an enormous impact on the economic security of West Virginia and our energy future. I intend to vote for Senator Murkowski's Resolution of Disapproval because I believe we must send a strong message that the fate of West Virginia's economy, our manufacturing industries, and our workers should not be solely in the hands of EPA."
Free market organizations that took part in a press conference on Capitol Hill today warned against the Environmental Protection Agency's extra-constitutional power grab and urged wavering senators to reclaim authority that the EPA is attempting to usurp.
"This is typical of the administration," Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) said in an interview. "When they lose out in the democratic process, they then move administratively to enact legislation that could not win approval in Congress. The American people understand what is at stake. We've had huge crowds turning out against these schemes at all our events across the country. New regulations should not be approved without consent from the people's elected representatives."
Although a strong case can be made that scientific rationale for EPA action is greatly flawed, the Murkowski Resolution does not take a position in this area one way or the other, Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) told audience members gathered inside the Senate Dirksen building.
"Climate policy is too important to be made by non-elected bureaucrats," he said. "That ought to be a proposition on which all Senators can agree. The importance of Thursday's vote is difficult to exaggerate. Nothing less than the integrity of our constitutional system of separated powers and democratic accountability hangs in the balance."
Sen. James Webb (D-VA) has also been supportive of the measure and could help to influence other key votes. Mark Warner, Virginia's other Democratic senator, is much less certain.
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