Senate Quashes Murkowski Attack on Clean Air Act

53 senators stood up for clean air

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You can breathe that sigh of relief.

At the end of the hours-long debate on the effort by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) effort to keep the U.S. EPA from controlling greenhouse gases, 53 senators came out in support of America’s right to clean air. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said the Murkowski resolution was a choice between "real science and political science."

The vote of 53-47 killed the resolution but did not end the debate on whether the EPA should monitor our nation’s global warming emissions. (More on that later).

In a statement, Earthjustice senior legislative representative Sarah Saylor said:

The Senate was faced with an important decision today: Will it work to protect the American people, safeguard our environment, and promote a clean-energy economy—or will it work to protect the worst polluters, the ones who use their deep pockets to try to buy Washington?

The American people won today. One of our nation’s most effective environmental laws, the Clean Air Act, stands intact after 40 years of serving public health and our planet.

The Senate has spoken and our nation’s leaders agree that we need this cornerstone Act, and in fact we need every tool we have to shift our country toward a prosperous and healthy clean-energy future.

We thank and applaud the 53 Senators who stood up against irresponsible polluters and voted for accountability and responsibility.

For the last several months, we have heard many of the senators who supported this resolution, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, argue that the Senate should be legislating climate change and energy policy. So now that that this matter is settled, we take them at their word and look forward to seeing the Senate move forward immediately on advancing and passing a strong, comprehensive climate change and energy Senate bill. We also look forward to seeing the historic clean cars standards take effect on July 6, helping reduce our dependence on oil.

As our worst environmental disaster in American history continues to unfold, there’s never been a better moment for our nation’s leaders to hold polluters accountable.

This vote was a nail-biter. Way back in September, Murkowski introduced the effort as an amendment. The initiative developed into a resolution and gained support from the likes of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and others.

While we won this vote, there will be others.

Our intel tells us there remain a few industry-influenced senators and representatives who are forging their plans to thwart the EPA’s efforts to keep our air clean.

But today, we can cheer for a historic win.

Raviya was a press secretary at Earthjustice in the Washington, D.C. office from 2008 to 2014, working on issues including federal rulemakings, energy efficiency laws and coal ash pollution.