The revolt against the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions intensified on Friday, as eight coal-state Democratic senators sent a letter to administrator Lisa Jackson detailing "serious economic and energy security concerns" with potential regulations.
"Ill-timed or imprudent regulation" of emissions "may squander critical opportunities for our nation, impeding the investment necessary to create jobs and position our nation to develop its own clean energy," wrote the group, which was led by Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) and joined by Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Robert Casey (Penn.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Carl Levin (Mich.).
The senators stopped short of endorsing a plan offered by Republican Lisa Murkowski and backed by several Democrats that would block the EPA's regulation of carbon dioxide. But they outlined a series of questions making clear that when it comes to Murkowski's measure, their votes are still in play. Among their concerns were whether Congress would be able to review the EPA's carbon regulations and how the agency would assess the "direct and indirect cost implications" of its new rules. The group also asked what impact Murkowski's measure would have on the EPA's ability to regulate and on the agency's broader work monitoring the impacts of climate change.
Murkowski's measure already has 40 cosponsors, including Democrats Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (La.). Jim Webb (Va.) has also expressed support for the measure, which requires only 51 votes to pass. Murkowski's bill is expected to go to a vote next month. If it passes, both the House and President Barack Obama would likely reject it. But it would deal yet another political blow to Senate Democrats' wider climate agenda.