Rockefeller to support Murkowski climate bill

June 8, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

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.


6 Responses to “Rockefeller to support Murkowski climate bill”

  1. mike4352 says:

    I would instead say that this is a test to determine which senators uphold the constitution and respects the system of checks and balances inherent therein. The EPA was given specific powers and guidlines with the Clean air act. This was based on 1970’s information.

    Now, nearly 4 decades later, new information has came to light that requires the EPA’s powers and the guidlines under which it operates (in respect to clean air) to change. What these changes should be SHOULD be decided by Congress, NOT the EPA. It is dangerous to let any single government entity that can effect so many aspects of our life, comprised of UNELECTED officials, have so much power over their own mandate and what guidlines under which they are going to operate. There HAS to be congressional oversight here.

    Letting them modify their own guidlines and mandate as new information comes in is ludicrous.

  2. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    You might say that, but you might be wrong … you need to read the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Court held that the EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.


  3. Thomas Rodd says:

    Ken is right, I believe; when the current Supreme Court holds that EPA has certain legal powers (and duties), you can be sure that those powers (and duties) are clearly there in the law.

    Having said that, people on all sides of the climate policy issue agree that EPA regulation, standing alone, will probably not do the job of getting the US into a global agreement on gradually but greatly reducing atmospheric carbon emissions.

    Getting such an agreement, NOW, is absolutely necessary in order to even have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

    There are people who choose to deny the reality of this situation, and not surprisingly, many are people who have a financial stake in business as usual. People tend to “believe” what it makes them happiest to believe.

    As I said in an earlier post on this subject, Senator Rockefeller undoubtedly understands that we need to act NOW — to create a global “investment climate” that will protect our children’s future.

    Importantly for West Virginia, it appears that only climate legislation — not the EPA — can provide the regulatory certainty that will support substantial investment in carbon capture and sequestration, the only long-term hope for the coal industry.

    My understanding — I could be wrong — is that such a Joint Resolution has no legal effect unless the President signs it. Is that likely? If not, then is the vote on Murkowski’s resolution a “feel good,” CYA vote?

  4. Vernon says:

    It’s sad to see Sen. Rockefeller joining in what appears to be a tea party attempt to steep our coastal cities in warming, rising, and oil-soaked oceans.
    So if the amendment passes, and it very well could given Congress’s and the President’s overwhelming urge to appease the fossil fuel industry, does this mean that every new pollutant/hazard/drug/etc. has to have an act of Congress to be recognized as such?

  5. […] Here’s a shocker … West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin issued a statement to praise Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., for announcing he will vote in favor of the broad effort to block any EPA action to deal with global warming. […]

  6. […] previously addressed Rockefeller’s stance (here, here and here) and explained how the resolution by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, would overturn […]

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