NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 15, 2010

On June 10, by a 53-to-47 vote, Senate Democrats defeated a bipartisan effort to halt the attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Obama administration to mount a regulatory takeover of the U.S. economy. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, had offered a resolution disapproving of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ruling that carbon-dioxide emissions pose a threat to human health and the environment.  Murkowski, the entire Senate Republican caucus and the six Democrats who voted for the bill were doing no less than reasserting Congress' constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. 

  • Energy production and use make up a large percentage of the economy and people's well-being.
  • The proposed EPA greenhouse-gas regulations would have a bigger impact over the long term than the financial bailouts and the various stimulus packages.
  • It would have a larger impact on our economy than any single piece of legislation other than, perhaps, the recently passed health care overhaul. 

Murkowski and her allies simply thought that elected members of Congress, accountable to their constituents, rather than unelected bureaucrats or judges should decide if, when and how the United States should respond to the potential threat posed by global warming, says Burnett.  President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and the majority of the Democratic caucus disagreed, killing the bill. 

Had it succeeded and a similar bill passed the House -- a big if -- Obama threatened a veto.  This is not surprising because he is using the threat of EPA regulations to pressure Congress into passing the largest energy-tax increase in U.S. history under the guise of climate-change legislation.  The president wants Congress to pass some version of a cap-and-trade climate bill under which gas and electricity prices would increase dramatically to force consumers to use less energy and thus reduce CO2 emissions.  With EPA regulations moving forward, explains Burnett, Obama is basically playing a game of chicken with Congress: "You pass the legislation I want, or I'll do something even worse through regulations." 

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Murkowski vote isn't end of the story; Democrats persist in efforts to turn out the lights," Washington Times, June 15, 2010. 

For text: 


Browse more articles on Environment Issues