On June 10, the Senate is scheduled to hold up to seven hours of debate, followed by a vote, on Sen. Murkowski’s (R-AK) resolution of disapproval (S.J.RES.26) against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding that greenhouse gases (GHGs) are a threat to human health.
In the 2007 court case Massachusetts et al. vs. EPA , the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act and must determine if GHGs pose a danger to public health and welfare. In December 2009, the EPA announced its finding that GHGs endanger human health and welfare, and thus must be regulated under the Clean Air Act. However, on January 21, 2010, Sen. Murkowski introduced a resolution disapproving of the EPA’s endangerment finding in the belief that “Congress is the only agency in the United States with the power to tackle the problem [of climate change] in a responsible manner.”
Murkowski’s resolution falls under the Congressional Review Act of 1996 , which allows Congress to review and overrule regulations issued by federal agencies. The resolution must be passed by a simple majority in both the Senate and the House and be signed by the President to take effect. Sen. Murkowski’s resolution has 40 cosponsors, three of whom are Democrats, bringing it close to the 51 votes needed to pass in the Senate. It is considered unlikely that the resolution would pass in the House and even less likely that the President would sign it. However, if the Senate were to pass the resolution, it could slow momentum for climate change legislation currently under consideration.
According to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson , “Senator Murkowski’s resolution would take away EPA’s ability to protect the health and welfare of Americans from greenhouse gas pollution. The resolution would ignore and override scientific findings and allow big oil companies, big refineries and others to continue to pollute without any oversight or consequence.”