Senate Votes Down Murkowski EPA Block

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The Senate defeated a bid by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski to neuter the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions by a vote of 53-47 vote on Thursday afternoon. Advocates for action on climate change chalked it up as a win—but it wasn’t without some blood.

Six Democrats crossed over and sided with Republicans on the bill: Mary Landrieu (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Evan Bayh (Ind.) , and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.).

The vote came after six hours of debate. Murkowski painted the effort as move to protect the economy from regulations she thinks would be crippling. It would just take away the EPA’s ability to act “while we work on a more responsible solution,” said Murkowski. Other Republicans chose to stick with the argument that greenhouse gases aren’t a problem and anyone who believes they are is perpetrating a hoax on the public.

Most among the Democrats portrayed the resolution of disapproval as a bid to protect big polluters. “This is the moment,” said California Democrat Barbara Boxer. “Two sides: protecting polluters or protecting our families.”

But among the Democrats, there was also Rockefeller, who stated, among other things, that he doesn’t care about the Environmental Protection Agency or the Supreme Court, whose 2007 decision directed the EPA to reach a determination about whether or not greenhouse gases pose a threat to humans.

Enviro groups cheered the win, while casting scorn upon the “yes” voters. “The Senators who voted for this resolution should be ashamed of themselves,” said Gillian Caldwell, campaign director for 1Sky.

Although some enviro groups, and even Murkowski, insisted that this is “not a referendum on any other legislation pending in the Senate” (i.e., a climate and energy package that may or may not come to a vote later this year), it could still be cast that way. Senators may yet decide to move forward with a bill regulating carbon dioxide. That is what the Obama administration and many others have repeatedly stated would be the ideal situation anyway.

But very few of those voting for today’s resolution have expressed much enthusiasm about the Senate passing a new law this year. While Murkowski’s loss might make some folks optimistic, it still means that there are 41 Republicans and six Democrats who think that it’s okay to tell the EPA that science doesn’t matter, and neither does the Supreme Court.  It depends on how you want to look at it.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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