By Juliet Eilperin
Administration officials are pointing out some of the consequences if Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is successful in blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) office suggesting Murkowski's resolution aimed at the EPA could complicate its efforts to impose stricter fuel-economy standards on cars and light trucks. In the Feb. 19 letter, the agency's chief counsel O. Kevin Vincent explains that because NHTSA's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard is tied to the EPA's greenhouse-gas rule for motor vehicles, it would be problematic if Murkowski's resolution stopped EPA from moving ahead.
"In sum, while passage of the Murkowski Resolution would not directly affect NHTSA's independent legal authority, it would have serious, adverse consequences for the Nation's economy, its energy independence and security, and public health and welfare," Vincent writes.
The agency is obligated under law to issue new vehicle rules by April 1, so that automakers can meet the standards when producing model year 2012 cars and light-trucks.
Murkowski's spokesman Robert Dillon said while agency officials "might miss their deadline" if the senator's resolution passes, they could just apply the standards to the next model year of cars and light-trucks. "NHTSA can easily promulgate new rules," he said.
In the meantime, student protesters targeted an energy industry-fundraiser for Murkowski Wednesday night, wearing "No Dirty Air Act" surgical masks.
See the video here:
Dillon noted that since Democrats such as Sen. John D. Rockefeller (WVa.) had raised similar objections to EPA's move to regulate greenhouse gases, "The question is, are they only going to target Republicans or are they going to broaden it out to Democrats?
You see growing Democratic concern about EPA."
A coalition of environmental groups are taking a less-confrontational but similarly youth-minded approach to defending the Clean Air Act: they've put up a Clean Air Act Facebook page that already has 1,200 fans.
According to John Walke, who directs the Natural Resources Defense Council's clean air program, "The page has useful information about the Act including helpful links; CAA milestones; topical advocacy opportunities to defend the Act against attacks in Congress; articles, videos and other posts about current air quality and climate issues; and posts by fellow citizens who care about clean air."
Juliet Eilperin| February 25, 2010; 4:06 PM ET Save & Share:
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