Sabotage in Senate Over Climate Change

Senators try to stop EPA from reducing global warming pollution

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Today, as world leaders, led by President Obama, struggled deep into the night on a plan to fight climate change, a handful of U.S. senators at home were trying to sabotage U.S. climate action. In league with long-time climate science deniers in Congress, they launched an effort to keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Led by Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), this politically motivated attack targets an "endangerment finding" announced by the EPA on Dec. 7. Sen. Murkowski, aided by Sen. Lindsay Graham and others, are trying to pass a resolution that would nullify this finding.

Although Sen. Graham publicly favors Congressional action to combat climate change, his agenda has been infected by such long-time climate deniers as Sen. James Inhofe, whose only goal is to derail any U.S. action.

The endangerment finding—which is based on strong scientific consensus—states that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are a threat to human health and welfare, and paves the way for EPA to reduce global warming pollution from major sources like coal-fired power plants. It is a direct result of a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that found the EPA has the authority and a legal obligation to regulate global warming pollution using the Clean Air Act.

Sen. Murkowski would rob the country of this powerful tool to tackle global warming. Moreover, her action rejects overwhelming scientific evidence. And her resolution implies the EPA should ignore the clear intent of the Clean Air Act.

At a time when urgent action—and strong U.S. leadership—are needed, Sen. Murkowski would hinder our response to global warming. Our country, let alone our planet, cannot tolerate more delay. Sen. Murkowski’s resolution must be rejected, and Congress must pass powerful climate change legislation as soon as possible.

Trip Van Noppen served as Earthjustice’s president from 2008 until he retired in 2018. A North Carolina native, Trip said of his experience: “Serving as the steward of Earthjustice for the last decade has been the greatest honor of my life.”