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Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein writes an opinionated blog on economic policy, cap and trade, health care reform and pretty much anything else you can attach a chart to.


It's about carbon, not Congress

Q: Should EPA keep pressing ahead with new greenhouse gas rules, or should it accept Congress will shape the future of any mandatory limits on carbon dioxide?

So the good news, I guess, is that Lisa Murkowski's resolution went down. The bad news is that in a 60-vote Senate, it's hard to imagine a climate bill, or even a mere energy bill that does something about coal-fired plants, getting through.

If I saw the Senate debate over Murkowski's effort to bar the EPA from regulating carbon happening anywhere else, I'd sigh and tell myself that these folks simply don't know much about the Senate. But this debate is happening in the Senate! It's as if they've not been paying attention to, well, themselves. And whatever faults I attributed to the United States Senate, being insufficiently interested in itself was not one of them.

But let's recap. Murkowski has based her argument on "the undisputed fact that climate policy should be written here in Congress." She is not saying that climate change isn't happening and thus there's no need to regulate carbon. She's just saying Congress should do the job.

Okay. There is currently a bill called the American Power Act. It was written by Joe Lieberman, John Kerry and Lindsey Graham. It is a comprehensive -- if imperfect -- approach to regulating carbon emissions. And it includes EPA preemption. That is to say, if it passes, the EPA will be barred from acting. And as the construction of that bill suggests, liberals like Kerry are fully willing to preempt the EPA as soon as Congress commits to a path of action.

But Murkowski isn't standing in support of that bill, or offering a package of modifications that would lead her to support that bill. She's just trying to block the EPA. As such, it's very hard to credit her argument that she's attempting to protect Congress' right to act. Congress has the right to act, and there's even a vehicle for action. Murkowski, whose support could be decisive to the passage of a climate bill, does not seem interested in getting one. Rather, she seems interested in blocking the regulation of carbon. And that, not congressional prerogative, is what this argument is about.

Entry originally published here.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 16, 2010; 10:52 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: EPA is an expensive fallback | Next: Energy policy is beyond EPA's mission


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If the Republicans replace a lot of incumbent Democrats in November, it seems very unlikely that the carbon tax folks will succeed in raising the cost of everyone's basic necessities like fuel, electricity, and food.

The reason climate change has become such an urgent matter is that this may be the last chance for the PhD's and windmill makers on this side of the Atlantic to cash in on the gravy train. Sea level rise of 3 mm per year and temperature rise of maybe 0.2C per decade is tough to sell as a crisis, but they don't need to sell it to most of the left wingers.

The world is far more likely to get colder than warmer in the next few years, so the folks hoping to cash in on this manufactured crisis know that their chances to cash in on an endless stream of taxpayer money is about to freeze up. Billions of dollars are already flowing in Europe, and our poor lefties are just trying to compete.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | June 16, 2010 5:30 PM
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Today, 6/16/10, Senator Mary Landrieu stated on the Senate floor that there will be no clean energy or climate bill unless there is a provision for immediate relief for Gulf coast residents and businesses impacted by the oil spill crisis included. She feels that the internal states, such as Wyoming, New Mexico, etc., should not be the only ones benefiting from any clean energy technology or manufacturing dollars that will be generated from wind or turbine energy. Well, I am confused - did the internal states such as Wyoming, North Dakota, New Mexico, etc. impose such legislaltive blackmail to receive benefit from the shrimping, seafood or off-shore drilling businesses that the gulf coast states have enjoyed due to their close proximity to the gulf waters? Her stated tactic has only reinforced how truely negative politics is and it makes me CRAZY! I'm sure there are other ways to attack the situation in the gulf than by threatening to hijack environmental change which not only will be detrimental to Louisiana and the other gulf states, but the whole country. I say, shame on Senator Landrieu, who, once again, shows it's all about what she can get over what's best for the country.

Posted by: Dont-Get-It | June 16, 2010 2:01 PM
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The theory of Global Warming is unravelling yet the left clings to it why? Because it is a means of controlling large groups of people, it is a means to destroy American Culture and it is a means to make everyone equal in the name of the planet. Except of course making everyone equal means except for a select few significantly lowering the standards of living for most.

Remember Animal Farm all animals are equal some are just more equal than others?

Posted by: Pilot1 | June 16, 2010 1:36 PM
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