Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have joined to oppose attempts by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finding last month that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare (see Daily GPI, Dec. 8, 2009).

"The independent work of scientists and public health experts from both the Bush and Obama administrations should stand on its own. We strongly urge you to vote 'no' when a resolution of disapproval or a similar amendment comes before the Senate," possibly as early as next week, wrote Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the other 11 committee Democrats in a "Dear Colleague" letter this week.

The EPA's December endangerment finding, Republicans and other critics say, has set the stage for the agency to more stringently regulate emissions even if Congress fails to enact climate change legislation.

Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is considering either filing a "disapproval resolution" to stop the EPA's efforts to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA), or introducing an amendment to block the EPA in an unrelated bill that would raise the federal debt limit.

The resolution of disapproval is a rarely used instrument by Congress. EPA regulation of GHG emissions could effectively be negated if the disapproval resolution is ratified (see Daily GPI, Dec. 22, 2009).

Murkowski already has gone toe-to-toe with Democrats over the EPA regulation of GHG emissions under the CAA. In September Senate Democrats blocked a Murkowski amendment to a spending bill that would have postponed for one year the EPA's regulations for GHG emissions from stationary sources to give Congress additional time to work on climate change legislation (see Daily GPI, Sept. 25, 2009).

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