Tell Sen. Webb: Say No to Sen. Murkowski's Dirty Air Act

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Last Monday, the Washington Post reported the following:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is likely to postpone offering an amendment (pdf) next week that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, according to sources familiar with the matter.


...The Washington Post has confirmed that two Washington lobbyists, Jeffrey R. Holmstead and Roger R. Martella, Jr., helped craft the original amendment Murkowski planned to offer on the floor last fall. Both Holmstead, who heads the Environmental Strategies Group and Bracewell & Guiliani, and Martella, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, held senior posts at EPA under the Bush administration and represents multiple clients with an interest in climate legislation pending before Congress.
As if this isn't bad enough, Politico reported on "new details" of "just how involved a pair of energy industry lobbyists were in writing a controversial amendment by Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant." In short, this bill was written by two former Bush administration officials, now fossil fuel industry lobbyists working to gut the Clean Air Act.

All of which I was not pleased to see this.
On Friday I reported that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has picked up a Democratic co-sponsor for her efforts to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. I haven't been able to conclusively pin down who that is, but a number of Hill sources are pointing to Virginia Democrat Jim Webb.

Several Democratic offices have pointed to Webb, as have environmental lobbyists working to block Murkowski's measure. Webb's office has not responded to requests for confirmation or comment.
I'm hoping this isn't true, but I've sent several messages to Webb's office and haven't heard anything back, so I'm really starting to wonder. Also, a little birdy just told me that Webb is in a meeting about this very issue right now. In other words, now would be a great time for you to call Webb's office and tell him you want him to oppose the Murkowski/Fossil Fuel Industry assault on the EPA and the Clean Air Act. Your message can be short and sweet: "Hi, I'm [Name] from [City or County], Virginia. I want Senator Webb *OPPOSE* Senator Murkowski's efforts to gut the Clean Air Act." Sen. Webb's office phone is: 202-224-4024. If you wind up getting voicemail, go ahead and leave a message, but the important thing is to call right away, so please do this as soon as you can. Thanks.

UPDATE: Sen. Webb's office responded to my emails as follows.
Senator Webb has shared with Senator Murkowski his concerns about the EPA’s latest finding, concerning the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, in the absence of clear congressional involvement and direction. Since his campaign for the U.S. Senate, one of Senator Webb’s principal themes has been to restore and maintain the proper balance of power between the executive branch and Congress. Senator Webb advanced similar arguments, concerning congressional engagement and approval, in August 2008 during the Bush Administration’s negotiation of the Iraq Security Agreements.

He has said on related issues for many years that the regulatory power of the executive branch is derived specifically from the legislative branch. It should be applied narrowly and in strict conformity with the Constitution and clear legislation enacted by the Congress. An executive branch decision to broadly interpret a legislative statute—especially one involving sweeping implications for our country—without such direction from Congress is inappropriate.
I responded by reminding them of the Supreme Court's ruling on this matter. I also pointed out that the Clean Air Act was passed by Congress, and that the Supreme Court ruling clearly indicated that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. So, what Sen. Webb's issue with this is beyond me.