Senate Votes Down Murkowski EPA Block

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


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.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate