Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Political Dishonesty from the Senate

Not unexpectedly, certain Senate Democrats (read: from coal states) are joining Republican Senators' calls for a protracted delay of EPA's efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. As I've discussed previously, Lisa Murkowski is leading the charge, garnering almost unanimous Republican support. But now Senators like Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) are joining in calls to block the EPA from regulatory authority, seeking Congressional action instead. (Meanwhile, a slew of big companies and trade associations are suing the EPA, asking for a review of its endangerment finding that CO2 is harmful to human health.)

The only important take-away from this "news" is that it is not new, and not driven by any new policy revelations or policy ideas. It is driven by politics and an interminable spirit of delay and obstructionism for those who aren't happy with the course of events. Senators and companies (which are likely becoming increasingly hard to tell apart) that come out against EPA regulations and call for Congressional action are not wrong in principle (which is why they are able to get away with their strategy); indeed, Congressional action would be a top-notch idea. But they know better than anyone that Congressional action has already been accomplished in the House, has miserably failed in the Senate, and is no longer moving anywhere this year (barring an awful bill rolled out by Senator Graham). No, they know that calling for a "delay" in EPA regulations and calling for "Congressional action" equates halting regulations on greenhouse gases.

For the trade associations and companies, this means waiting for Republicans to gain seats in Congress and eliminating any serious threat of carbon regulation. For Senators, it means killing the potential for regulation of their states' most harmful sources of pollution. And these days, it seems the business of the Senate is to stand around and wait for legislation to die rather than do anything about it. One can't blame Evan Bayh for preparing to step out.

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