MURKOWSKI LETS THE LOBBYISTS DO THE WORK… When it comes to combating emissions generating climate change, policymakers have a choice. They can approve cap and trade or a similar measure, or they can let the Environmental Protection Agency combat global warming through the regulatory process of the Clean Air Act.

The latter approach isn’t ideal, but the EPA has nevertheless declared that greenhouse gases are a dangerous public-health hazard and must be regulated by the government. The agency’s “endangerment finding” is the result of a study ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 on the effects of greenhouse gas pollution on human health and welfare.

So, the EPA has the authority to act, but we’re waiting to see what lawmakers, many of whom prefer to do nothing, come up with. At this point, conservatives have a new plan: instead of addressing the climate crisis, let’s remove the EPA’s authority to act.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Tuesday left open the possibility that she would seek a vote next week on stopping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from going forward with regulations to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

“I do not believe and I don’t believe that most of my colleagues in the Senate believe that the EPA is the entity that is the best suited to develop climate-change policy for this country,” Ms. Murkowski (R., Alaska) told reporters. “I’m trying to get a time-out. I’m trying to allow the legislative process to proceed. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to have a vote that will allow for that discussion.”

And if the legislative process fails to proceed — an outcome Republicans hope to guarantee — then the crisis can continue to worsen.

Best of all, Murkowski’s amendment was crafted by two corporate lobbyists, Jeffrey R. Holmstead and Roger R. Martella, Jr., both of whom worked on environmental policy for Bush/Cheney, but have since cultivated an interesting client list.

Holmstead represents industry interests including Southern Company, Duke Energy, Progress Energy and the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council on climate matters, according to congressional lobbying registration forms, while Martella represents the National Alliance of Forest Owners and the Alliance of Food Associations on the same subject.

For what it’s worth, a Scott Brown (R) victory in Massachusetts would make any environmental progress impossible — not only would every bill be filibustered, but Brown prefers to reject the evidence provided by climate scientists.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.