Murkowski EPA Amendment Expected Tomorrow

| Wed Jan. 20, 2010 2:23 PM EST

We'll find out tomorrow precisely which strategy Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) plans to employ in her mission to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. Her press office just announced that the senator will give a floor speech tomorrow in which she'll indicate whether she plans to tack an amendment blocking EPA regulations onto debt-ceiling legislation, or whether she'll offer a separate "resolution of disapproval" barring any EPA restrictions on carbon emissions.

Murkowski's move comes as Democratic leaders are growing increasingly worried about advancing their legislative priorities in the aftermath of Republican Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts on Tuesday. What was already expected to be a very tough vote on climate legislation just got a lot tougher. In fact, EPA regulation of carbon dioxide is starting to look like the last—and possibly only—hope for curbing emissions anytime soon. Murkowski's office argues, however, that she's not trying to prevent emissions cuts, but that she simply wants to keep the policy debate in Congress rather than letting the executive branch write the rules. And she's getting support from at least one Democrat—Virginia's Jim Webb.

"There’s been a lot of criticism of Sen. Murkowski’s motives," says Robert Dillon, the senator's spokesman. "The fact is all she’s asking for is an up or down vote on whether the EPA should be allowed to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act." 

UPDATE: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said on Wednesday that she is has been working with Murkowski on her efforts to block EPA regulation, and may formally support her measure. "I am considering that right now," Landrieu told reporters. Landrieu, a big supporter of the oil and gas industries, has been a vocal opponent of legislation to cap emsissions. Virginia Democrat Jim Webb has also expressed support for Murkowski's efforts.

UPDATE: Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said he may also support Murkowski's efforts, reports Energy & Environment News.