Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has announced that as soon as the Senate returns from the Memorial Day break she will force a vote on a resolution to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from capping global warming pollution. That’s odd. As the public is waiting to see how the government will respond to the most massive oil spill in our history, an oozing killer that is turning Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, into the black pelican, it appears that Murkowski is asking for more of the same.
[IMGCAP(1)]The disaster in the Gulf has reminded everyone of the folly of deregulating as the risks of catastrophe rise. But Murkowski — and her 41 colleagues who have co-sponsored her proposal — want to make the first vote on climate in the Senate this year to be one that allows more pollution.
By pushing this proposal forward, it is as if she has concluded that there is not enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced that this April was the warmest month on record. Does she think it’s not warm enough?
Glacier National Park in Montana has lost one-third of its iconic glaciers. Does she think they are melting too slowly?
Native villages in her home state of Alaska are falling into the sea because there is no longer a sea-ice buffer to protect them from strong storms. Does she want to increase the number of destroyed native villages?
The public is now confronted with a moment of deep environmental awakening. In contrast, the Murkowski coalition seems to be in a business-as-usual trance still favoring protections for Big Oil’s bottom line rather than the American people.
It is time to cap the Greenhouse Gas Gusher that is fouling our atmosphere just like the Deepwater Horizon gusher is fouling the shores of the Gulf. The agency has proposed to cap the gusher using the Clean Air Act — the only approach currently authorized. The public health and welfare depends on it.
So let us hope that the Senator from Alaska comes to her senses. The problem is not the EPA trying to protect the public — it is the emissions catastrophe that will harm us all if we let it continue uncapped.
Right now, the closest thing we have to a climate blowout preventer is the EPA. Let it work.
David Moulton is director of climate policy at the Wilderness Society.