Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Upside Down

Nearly two weeks ago Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski defeated a bill that would increase BP’s liability cap to clean up the mess it made in the Gulf of Mexico. Her stated reasons (looking out for the oil industry’s “little guys”: all together now, awwwwwww!) were completely bogus, as I explained in my post here. It was basically a big fat kiss to the multinational corporations which keep Alaska’s economy running. Why not just say it and be done with it? You’re not fooling anyone.

And now Murkowski has another gift for her friends at Big Oil: it’s called the Murkowski Resolution. This would basically gut the Clean Air Act by making it illegal for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Yes, you read that right. The Clean Air Act would no longer allow the EPA to regulate the crap that keeps our air from being clean.

While you’re trying to wrap your head around that legislative oxymoron, here’s another one for you: The Murkowski Resolution will come up for a vote on June 10 and three of the Democratic Party’s worst offenders are supporting it:
Murkowski's resolution would need 51 votes to clear the chamber. She already has 41 co-sponsors, including three Democrats: Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Well, isn’t that special. These three names are familiar burrs in progressive knickers, and I would just love to see them squirm on this one. Especially Lincoln, who is facing a tough primary race.

The timing on this should be lost on no one. The New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert has an excellent commentary about the Gulf oil spill in this week’s issue. She takes us back to 1969 and the twin environmental disasters of the Santa Barbara oil spill and burning of the Cuyahoga River:

By the end of the year, Congress had passed the National Environmental Policy Act, known by the acronym NEPA, which requires federal agencies to file impact statements for all actions that could have a significant ecological effect. The following spring, millions of people took to the streets for Earth Day, and by the second anniversary of the spill President Richard Nixon had created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed into law the Clean Air Act.

For you young kids who don’t remember: Nixon was a Republican.

So now it’s 40 years later, we have a Democrat in the White House and we’re battling an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that, as Kolbert writes, “makes the Santa Barbara spill look like a puddle.”

We’ve had coal miners die in West Virginia and Kentucky, and we’ve had 1.1 billion gallons of coal sludge cover 300 acres of Roane County, Tennessee. And instead of a massive call to action to stop our polluting ways, we have Republicans and a handful of Democrats voting to gut the Clean Air Act and tie the EPA’s hands on regulating air pollutants.


I really hope everyone gets on the phone and calls their senators about this, pronto. Because if this Murkowski Resolution passes in the wake of a massive oil spill, then what that’s going to tell Washington and the rest of the world is that we really just don’t give a crap about the planet.