No endangerment finding, no federal tailpipe emissions regulation. However, California and at least 13 other states would still likely enforce their standards, creating a frustrating patchwork of rules for the industry.
Jackson is clear about how approval of Murkowski’s amendment would look to the rest of the world:
“A vote to vitiate the greenhouse gas endangerment finding would be viewed as a vote to reject the scientific work of 13 U.S. government departments that contribute to the U.S. Global Change Research Program," Jackson wrote.
“It also would be viewed by many as a vote to move the United States to a position behind that of China on the issue of climate change, and more in line with the position of Saudi Arabia.”
Coal States and Clean Energy
The coal-state Democrats’ letter — also signed by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who is on the committee Jackson will speak to today — still expressed support for climate and energy legislation:
“We strong believe this is ultimately Congress’ responsibility, and if done properly, will create jobs, spur new clean energy industries, and greatly advance the goal of U.S. independence," they wrote. "If done improperly, these opportunities could be lost.”
Rockefeller added that he is “to suspend EPA’s regulatory authority to allow sufficient time for Congressional consideration of the nation's larger energy policy and economic needs.”
“At a time when so many people are hurting, we need to put the decisions about our energy future in to the hands of the people and their elected representatives — especially on issues impacting clean coal. EPA actions in this area would have enormous implications and these issues need to be handled carefully and appropriately dealt with by the Congress, not in isolation by a federal environmental agency,” he said.
Whether those issues get handled at all by Congress remains to be seen.
The American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) bill barely passed the House, and only after significant concessions to major emitters, particularly the coal industry. In the Senate, Democrat John Kerry and Republican Lindsey Graham have been working on a climate bill and are expected to release more details this week, though it may end up little more than an energy bill that embraces clean coal and nuclear power.
The nation's governors, meanwhile, have been leading the charge with real action to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Washington said this about the lack of action from Congress and the backlash to the EPA's efforts to deal with climate change:
“A majority of my colleagues and I — Democrats and Republicans, alike — have worked at the state and regional level to promote clean energy jobs, energy independence, and caps on greenhouse gas emissions. In the absence of comprehensive federal energy and climate legislation, EPA must be applauded for accepting the responsibility Congress has given it under the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon dioxide and other pollutants that threaten our people and our communities.”
UPDATE: This morning's hearing, intended to be about the EPA's budget, turned into a debate over climate science, with one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of climate action launching another attack on science, this time going directly after the scientists themselves.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) used his position as the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee to issue a “minority report” that pulled a handful of out of thousands of pages of private emails among scientists that were hacked into last year at a British university just before the international climate change conference in Copenhagen. Inhofe, whose leading is the oil and gas industry, has been trying for years to back up his claim that climate science is a "hoax". His colleague, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), joined his criticism, drawing from British business and policy consultant Christopher Monckton's science skeptic group, the Science and Public Policy Institute, for his arguments.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other committee members explained again that personal conversations taken out of context and a few errors in the volumes complied by the IPCC don't negate all the measurements and observations that clearly show the planet is warming. Jackson said she doesn't condone some of those personal email conversations, but they don't change the science, she said. The EPA reviewed "multiple lines of evidence from many, many sources" including work by NASA, NOAA, the Department of Energy labs and the National Academies of Science, Jackson said.