Showdown this week on Murkowski scheme

SHOWDOWN THIS WEEK ON MURKOWSKI SCHEME…. The fate of climate/energy legislation in the Senate remains entirely unclear, but policymakers hoping to combat global warming have an alternate route.

As we talked about a few weeks ago, though it’s not ideal, the Environmental Protection Agency can use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions. The White House would like to use this for leverage, telling Congress that if lawmakers don’t take steps to deal with the problem, the administration will let the EPA use its regulatory authority. It’s the White House giving lawmakers a choice: either you act or we will.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) wants to create a third option: nobody acts and the problem just gets worse.

Murkowski has already demonstrated that her sympathies rest with oil companies, but her latest gambit is “a rarely-used procedural maneuver that enables Congress to overturn regulations set by the executive branch.” In effect, Murkowski wants to block climate legislation on the Hill and prevent the EPA from having the authority to act.

This will come to a head on Thursday.

Murkowski plans to offer a resolution barring the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions. In other words, Murkowski plans to offer a resolution making it less likely we move away from fossil fuels, making it less likely we act to prevent a foreseeable catastrophe (in this case, global warming) from occurring, blocking regulators from doing their jobs, and disrupting one of our best opportunities to prevent climate change rather than scramble to respond after its incalculable effects rip through our atmosphere.

Murkowski says that her effort is much simpler than all that. “My decision to introduce this measure is rooted in a desire to see Congress — not unelected bureaucrats — lead the way in addressing climate change,” she wrote.

What an odd thing to say. Murkowski doesn’t want Congress to lead the way in addressing climate change. She doesn’t want anyone addressing climate change. Her defense for this scheme is little more than a pathetic rationalization, intended to persuade people who aren’t paying attention.

The Murkowski effort is generating a fair amount of pushback. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson is going after the measure, as are progressive groups like Americans United for Change, which has labeled the proposal the “Murkowski Big Oil Bailout.”

We’ll see what happens on the Senate floor on Thursday, but keep in mind, the resolution cannot be filibustered — if it gets 51 votes, it passes. The Alaskan senator would effectively need all of the Senate Republicans — which may itself be tricky, since Snowe, Collins, and Brown are hesitant — and 10 Senate Democrats. That may sound like too high a threshold, but Murkowski already has four Dems, and the senators from West Virginia and Virginia have not yet weighed in.