On June 10, 2010, the Murkowski Resolution to disapprove EPA’s endangerment finding on greenhouse gases (“GHG”) was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 47-53. All Senate Republicans and six Senate Democrats voted in favor of the resolution.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), joined by a group of 40 co-sponsors, including three Democrats, introduced the resolution in January under the Congressional Review Act (see March 5, 2010 edition of the WER). The resolution would have prevented EPA from regulating GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Under Senate procedural rules, resolutions introduced under the Congressional Review Act do not need 60 votes in the Senate and can be adopted by a simple majority. Although the resolution may have had difficulty passing the House, and almost certainly would have been vetoed by President Obama, it was intended to force a vote on whether the Clean Air Act is an appropriate vehicle for regulating GHG emissions.
Some possible supporters of the resolution decided to oppose it based on reports that the Majority Leader had promised a vote on a bill sponsored by Senator Rockefeller (D-WV). Senator Rockefeller’s bill, which has not yet been formally introduced, would not prohibit EPA regulation as did the Murkowski resolution but would delay such regulation for a period of two years. It is unclear at this time if and when the Senate will vote on Senator Rockefeller’s bill.
Also in the wings is possible legislation by Senators Carper (D-DE) and Casey (D-PA) that may not yet have been drafted but would, at least reportedly, delay regulation for one year and also codify EPA’s tailoring rule. Thus, it remains uncertain whether renewed efforts will be made in Congress to prevent EPA regulation of GHG emissions; such regulation is scheduled to commence in January 2011.