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Published: Thursday, 6/10/2010

Thwarting the EPA

THE horrendous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reminds Americans of the problems and costs associated with the nation's addiction to petroleum as an energy source. At this of all times, it would take an especially tone-deaf member of Congress to push a resolution that caters to Big Oil.

Unfortunately, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) appears up to the task. Her resolution, which is scheduled for a Senate vote today, would disapprove - basically, veto - the Environmental Protection Agency's science-based finding last December that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare.

Senator Murkowski insists she is committed to a careful evaluation of options to address climate change. But she says she opposes the EPA "endangerment finding" for carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases because it threatens a host of "command-and-control directives, rather than market-based decisions."

Cynics might say she opposes the EPA action because it might actually achieve something. Realists can say that reckless market-based decisions contributed to the Gulf oil spill.

If the resolution succeeds, it would deal a major blow to the Clean Air Act. It also would call into question whether this nation will ever contain greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told a House subcommittee in April that if Congress were to nullify the EPA's finding of the harmful effects of greenhouse gas pollution, it would remove the legal basis for regulating emissions of those gases from new vehicles.

The EPA projects that by 2022, its greenhouse-gas standard will save about 13.6 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel that year alone, decreasing America's oil imports by $41.5 billion and reducing emissions by 138 million metric tons.

This is no time to indulge Big Oil. Ohio's and Michigan's senators, and their colleagues, should reject this irresponsible resolution.

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