The Clean Air Act defended in close vote

This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | June 11, 2010 | Energy Policy

Earlier today, the Senate voted by a margin of 53 to 47 to reject a resolution sponsored by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (S.J. Res 26).  This resolution was aptly named the “Dirty Air Act,” since it would have blocked the Clean Air Act rules that safeguard human health and the environment.

I find it outrageous that nearly half of our nation’s Senators voted to gut the most important tool we have to reduce harmful climate pollution and protect public health even as millions of gallons of oil continue to gush each day into the Gulf of Mexico.

For more than three decades, the Clean Air Act has kept millions of tons of pollutants out of our air and water.  Passing this resolution would have given the nation’s largest polluters like Massey Coal and BP Oil a free pass to continue releasing global warming emissions that endanger public health and our rapidly warming environment.

Now that the Senate has defeated this measure, it is unlikely that the House of Representatives will mount a similar assault on the Clean Air Act despite numerous policies introduced by Congressional members.  Reps. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced their own “disapproval resolution” (H.J. Res. 66) mirroring Sen. Murkowski’s Dirty Air Act; Rep. Earl Pomery (D-ND) introduced a bill (H.R. 4396) to reverse the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 global warming decision by declaring that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are not air pollutants; and Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Ike Skelton (D-MO), and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) introduced a bill that would attack the Clean Air Act’s “endangerment finding” while attempting to weaken the Clean Air Act by broadening the definition of biofuels and preventing monitoring of new international emissions that result from “indirect” land-use changes.

You can see how your Senators voted on this short-sighted resolution and then please consider taking a few minutes to call their offices to express your appreciation if they rejected this resolution or express your disappointment if they voted to roll back the Clean Air Act’s protections against climate pollution.

In reality, this “Dirty Air Act” was nothing more than an elaborate Senate dance – a delaying tactic – that diverted attention away from the clean energy policies that our nation desperately needs.  It is our sincere hope that Senate leaders will use this victory as a springboard to see such policies enacted later this year.

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