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Sam Edmondson's blog

Americans can breathe a sigh of relief today, thanks to new rules announced by the Environmental Protection Agency that will reduce toxic air pollution in communities across the country. The rules come three years after Earthjustice and others stopped the Bush administration from deregulating toxic emissions from industrial boilers, incinerators, and process heaters.

Glacier National Park is commemorating its centennial this year. Hoping to celebrate the park's tremendous beauty in person, I recently submitted a request to camp in Glacier's high country later this summer. If I'm lucky enough to obtain the permits, I will find myself hiking high trails in the home of grizzly bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, Canadian lynx, bald eagles, and more than 1,000 plant species, to name just a few.

Yesterday, a new political theater opened in the battle over whether the Clean Air Act should be used to reduce global warming pollution. At issue is a request contained in the Obama administration's 2011 budget proposal that $56 million—$43 million of it new—be directed to the EPA for use in efforts to cut global warming pollution from mobile sources like cars and stationary sources like coal-fired power plants.

The EPA Clean Air Act endangerment finding, under attack in the U.S. Senate by Lisa Murkowski and her lobbyist allies, is also facing opposition in the courts. Last month, a band of industry interests asked a federal appeals court to review the EPA's finding, which is a prerequisite for using the Clean Air Act to reduce global warming pollution in the U.S.

For the second time in 3 months, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is trying to block solutions to global warming. In September, she attempted to tack an amendment onto an appropriations bill that would have kept the Environmental Protection Agency from spending any money on reducing global warming pollution from major emissions sources, like coal-fired power plants. She failed.

The endangerment finding released by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this week—which states that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are a threat to public health and welfare—sure seems to rub some politicians the wrong way. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), a U.S. Senate hopeful, made an attempt to keep any funding allocated in an omnibus spending bill to the EPA from being spent on regulations based on the endangerment finding.

Tiahrt's amendment to the $446.8 billion dollar spending bill was rejected last night in a 5-9 vote. A similar unsuccessful assault on EPA regulation of global warming pollution was mounted in September by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Her amendment, which would have prevented the EPA for one year from spending any money allocated to them through an appropriations bill on regulating stationary sources of carbon pollution like power plants, didn't even get a vote.

These attempts to block funding for regulations, compared to the enthusiasm expressed by many at the announcement of the endangerment finding, illustrate a central issue: Using the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming pollution from cars, trucks, power plants, factories and other sources is a divisive issue. Moving forward, if and when EPA rolls out proposed regulations for these sources, it'll be interesting to see who lines up on which side of the argument.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.