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Rockefeller to support Murkowski climate bill

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Well,  West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller this evening answered the question from my previous blog post, “The Murkowski Bill: Does Sen. Jay Rockefeller want to be on record protesting climate science?”

Sen. Rockefeller announced after the close of business that he would on Thursday vote in favor of the legislation put forth by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to block any U.S. EPA action to deal with global warming.

In a prepared statement Sen. Rockefeller said:

I have long maintained that the Congress – not the unelected EPA – must decide major economic and energy policy. EPA regulation will have an enormous impact on the economic security of West Virginia and our energy future.

I intend to vote for Senator Murkowski’s Resolution of Disapproval because I believe we must send a strong message that the fate of West Virginia’s economy, our manufacturing industries, and our workers should not be solely in the hands of EPA.

Rockefeller’s press office headlined their news release, “Rockefeller says support for Murkowski resolution is a vote for a strong West Virginia economy.” But, it sounds like Sen. Rockefeller understands this bill has very little chance of becoming law:

It is not clear whether this resolution will pass, and the White House issued a statement on Tuesday threatening a veto if it does pass.

Sen. Rockefeller’s decision is a great win for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, who have been agitating for such a vote and whose president, Steve Roberts, is turning into a major denier of climate change science, as I report in a story for tomorrow’s Gazette:

Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said his group hopes that Byrd and Rockefeller both vote for the Murkowski bill. Roberts said Tuesday that he not only thinks Congress, rather than EPA, should write any greenhouse limits, but that he’s not convinced that EPA was right to conclude greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare.

“Oh, I don’t know, I think that is a matter yet to be determined,” Roberts said. “I don’t know if I agree or disagree with their conclusions.

“I don’t know whether the science supports that,” Roberts said. “I think we don’t know enough about this topic.”

Last month, three new studies by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the science supporting action on climate change is strong, and that the nation should act right away to reduce emissions and to develop plans for dealing with some inevitable impacts of global warming.

“Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems,” one of the reports concluded.

And let’s be perfectly clear here, a vote for the Murkowski bill is most definitely a vote against the overwhelming scientific evidenced, because this legislation not only blocks EPA action, but overturned EPA’s scientifically based “endangerment finding,” which concluded greenhouse emissions were a threat to public health and welfare.

Earthjustice issued a statement that outlined two things about the Murkowski legislation:

First, it is a red herring, a distraction from the real task at hand before the Senate: to find a way toward a sustainable and prosperous clean-energy future. Second, it is a test. Which senators are on the side of big, influential, dirty fossil fuel industries at this moment of man-made crisis in American history? And which are on the side of the American people and working to guarantee us a clean and healthy future? We will know the answer on Thursday.