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Murkowski Resolution goes down 53-47 in Senate; EPA’s GHG regs stand

June 11, 2010

Despite winning the support of six Democrats, a resolution designed to strip the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases (GHG) under the Clean Air Act went down to defeat Thursday in the U.S. Senate.

Senators voted 53-47 to kill a disapproval resolution offered by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski.  

In a  May 26 letter, Illinois Farm Bureau urged Senators Durbin and Burris to support the measure which required 51 votes to pass.

Neither Illinoisan supported the resolution.  

In his floor speech, Sen. Durbin called it a “choice between real science and political science.”   Durbin said that a vote for Murkowski represented a step backwards and would send a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. is in ‘”complete denial” on climate change.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota was one of several supporters who did an excellent job of explaining what the vote was really about, saying it would have “profound implications for the U.S. economy.”    He backed up his argument with statements from the Obama administration.

IFB also issued a news release just hours before the vote.   The release explains that while EPA won’t be imposing a “cow tax” next year when it begins regulating the nation’s largest GHG emitters, we fully anticipate that either the EPA will decide or the courts will force the agency to follow the letter of the Clean Air Act and begin regulating smaller emitters under Title V.

“Philosophically, Farm Bureau members do not believe we can regulate ourselves into innovation and prosperity. Nor do we think it wise or logical to impose regulations in the hope they will somehow, someday lead Congress to adopt a legislative solution,” said IFB President Philip Nelson.

American Farm Bureau Federation expressed disappointment over the resolution’s defeat and called it  one of the most important votes this year in the Senate affecting U.S. agriculture.

“Additional EPA regulation for farmers will likely mean higher food costs for consumers because of higher input and energy costs to grow our food and result in negative economic impacts on the agriculture sector. 

“Importantly, this vote also brought into question who should decide our nation’s energy policy — elected lawmakers or a regulatory agency.  It is regrettable the Senate answered this question as it did. The vote against S.J. Res. 26 allows EPA to embark on the ambitious and unprecedented regulation of the American economy without congressional input.

It is estimated that within a decade, EPA’s new greenhouse gas rules could impact 37,000 farms in the U.S., requiring owners to secure permits costing $23,200 each.  The total cost of the permits would total $860 million, for which farmers and U.S. agriculture would gain nothing.

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