Does the Republican Senator from climate-ravaged Alaska really support stronger and faster action to reduce CO2 emissions than the House-passed bill requires?
Lisa Murkowski has taken some real heat for proposing to delay EPA’s Supreme-Court-mandated requirement to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (see “Murkowski proposes to fiddle while Alaska burns“). So her staff has sent around the “Murkowski EPA Amendment Fact Sheet” to “help reporters cover the issue.” It offers the most amazing defense of the Senator’s proposal:
Nearly all environmental groups, members of Congress and even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have said that congressional action on climate change is preferable to EPA regulation.
Can’t disagree with that (see “The dangerous myth that the EPA’s endangerment finding can somehow stop dangerous warming if the climate bill dies“). Of course, all environmental groups oppose her amendment, too, but let that go for now….
Sen. Murkowski believes climate change is one of the great challenges of our time and that it must be addressed. However, it won’t be easy. Properly addressing a problem of this magnitude requires serious intellectual analysis and consideration of a wide array of possible solutions. This true bipartisan debate isn’t going to happen with the threat of economically disastrous EPA regulations hanging over Congress’ head.
All true — well, other than the last sentence, which is certainly the exact opposite of the prevailing view of almost all the people this fact sheet just quoted in the previous paragraph.
The key point is that Murkowski believes climate change is a great challenge that must be addressed with Congressional action. But what kind of action? Here is where the fact sheet gets jaw-dropping:
Sen. Murkowski is genuinely concerned about climate change. As a born and raised Alaskan she sees the effects climate change is having on our state. The consequences of failing to act are serious, but the consequences of acting irresponsibly are just as serious. Poorly crafted legislation, such as the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill, would have immediate negative consequences for the economy while allowing companies to make minimal emissions cuts for decades. Climate legislation must have more immediate environmental benefits.
Wow! Who knew the Republican senator from Alaska wanted a tougher climate bill than the House?
I don’t at all agree with her unfounded claim that the “would have immediate negative consequences for the economy.” Neither does Nobel prize-winning NYT columnist Paul Krugman(see Climate action “now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump” by giving “businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities”). Neither does Lisa Jackson (see “New EPA analysis of Waxman-Markey: Consumer electric bills 7% lower in 2020 thanks to efficiency“).
And I don’t agree the bill would allow companies “to make minimal emissions cuts for decades” — but I certainly agree that it would be great to have a stronger bill. Now there are really only two ways to ensure the Senate bill achieves more immediate and assured emissions benefits than the House bill — a tougher near-term target and much greater restrictions on offsets. Works for me. I can’t wait for the Murkowski strengthening amendment to the Boxer-Kerry bill!
And did you notice the inherent contradiction in the fact sheet? If the House bill doesn’t actually require companies to do much, how could it possibly have any significant negative consequences for the economy? Pick one, criticism, Senator, and stick with it.
This fact sheet is such a muddled mess it’s probably difficult to draw any major conclusions from it — except that Murkowski is going to have a lot of explaining to do if she votes against the Senate climate bill after pushing her amendment to delay EPA action and offering this defense for her actions.
Nate Silver’s “Probability of Yes” vote for Murkowski is 2.37%, putting her in the “Republican Hail Mary’s & No-Shots.” Based on this fact sheet alone, I’d be inclined to multiply that probability by a factor of 10. Assuming the Senate comes up with a bill that, say, McCain can support, how exactly will Murkowski oppose it? On grounds that it is too weak?