A crucial vote to block the EPA’s global warming power grab scheme is coming up in the Senate this afternoon. It's called "Senate Joint Resolution 26" ("SJ Res 26," is also called the Murkowski Resolution for its lead sponsor) and it would block and overturn the EPA’s global warming regulations.
Despite the Democratic majority in the Senate, the White House and Majority Leader Harry Reid have been in a desperate scramble to stop the resolution. The White House issued a veto threat and has dispatched top officials to the Hill to pressure Democratic senators.
Reid is now considering allowing a vote on an alternative two-year delay to avoid the embarrassment of a permanent overturn of EPA regulations passing the Senate. In the end, even if the extraordinary efforts of the White House prevail, this vote will, like health care, have devastating political consequences for senators on the wrong side of their constituents.
These regulations were originally devised by White House climate czar Carol Browner in the 1990s, when she was EPA administrator. At the time it was seen as a way to force action on global warming despite the fact that Congress and the American people did not want it.
The idea was to shoehorn global warming regulations from the 1970s Clean Air Act -- an idea that seemed crazy until the Supreme Court opened the door for it with their decision in "Massachusetts v. EPA" in 2007. That 5-4 decision instructed the EPA to decide whether or not to pursue global warming regulation based on the language of the statute.
In a better world, the EPA would have reacted to the court by citing the enormous administrative burden and absurd results of trying to fashion a national global warming program out of Clean Air Act programs designed for a very different problem. Then it would have decided against regulation.
Sadly, we don’t live in that world. Instead, the Obama administration’s EPA decided to apply the full force of the Clean Air Act to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and simply ignore the inconvenient requirements of the law. In effect, the EPA has promoted itself to a position as super-legislature of the United States, arbitrarily rewriting the law to suit its purposes.
This has the convenient feature of allowing the Obama administration to pursue an extreme global warming agenda to make energy prices skyrocket and gain sweeping regulatory control over the United States economy – without a politically difficult vote in Congress.
Until today, that is.
Today, every member of the Senate will be forced to take a position on SJ Res 26. The best explanation of the stakes comes from the left-wing senator and global warming true-believer Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia:
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.
With this powerful statement – which rings as true for the national economy as for the West Virginia economy – Sen. Rockefeller laid bare the desperate arguments being put forward by the White House and Senate Democratic leadership.
Thursday’s vote is not about climate science, or the auto emissions standards (which can stand on the CAFE law without EPA’s help), a “Dirty Air Act” (greenhouse gases are not the sort of air pollution that can be seen or smelled or felt, so they don’t “dirty” the air as anyone would reasonably understand the term), or bailing anyone out.
The vote is fundamentally about one thing: who decides our economic future?
In our Constitutional Republic, the Congress of the United States is the legitimate legislative branch of government, charged with making the laws. A decision to adopt any national global warming program is an enormous one, with hundreds of billions of dollars and personal liberties at stake. This is simply not something that ought to be done through the backdoor via an unelected, unaccountable agency like the EPA.
Today it will be in the Senate’s hands to vote on whether they will stand up for themselves as an institution. Will they decide to take control of the country’s economic future by voting YES on SJ Res 26? Will they put the question of whether the country should adopt a global warming program, potentially what it should look like, in Congress, where it belongs?
Any senator who votes NO will be voting to look the other way, to outsource legislative responsibility to the EPA, and allow that agency to run roughshod over the U.S. economy. They will do so at their own electoral peril.
There is still time to let your senators know how you feel about this vote. The Senate switchboard is 202-224-3121, and at Americans for Prosperity we have an e-mail form set up here.
Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity, which runs the www.RegulationReality.com project on the EPA power grab. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, and through www.PhilKerpen.com.
Fox Forum is on Twitter. Follow us @fxnopinion.
Phil Kerpen is the founder of American Commitment Action Fund, on the web at www.BookerFAIL.com.