Leahy: Murkowski Resolution Would ‘Punt, Pass and Kick’ Clean Air Issues Farther Down the Field

Jun 10, 2010, 15:15 ET from Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy

WASHINGTON, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday spoke on the Senate Floor against the resolution by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would prevent the EPA from regulating reductions in greenhouse gases. Leahy’s full speech follows:

Mr. President, I rise today to speak in opposition to the proposed resolution from the Senator from Alaska. This resolution of disapproval reminds me of a skills competition for young people, promoted by the National Football League, called “Punt, Pass, and Kick.”

In fact, this resolution is an engraved invitation for the Senate to make a big league handoff of a basketful of illness, economic stalemate and environmental pollution, to our children and grandchildren.

It would punt away constructive action to begin addressing the many threats that each and every American faces from climate change, and the threats we face every day to our national security.

It would pass on the opportunities to foster cleaner air and water for us, and for the generations that will follow us.

And it would kick away the progress already negotiated by the Obama Administration and key industries, such as our automobile and truck manufacturers, to usher in new products that would pollute less while creating good American jobs, jobs that cannot be sent overseas.

Many on the other side of the aisle have been adamant in trying to wish these problems away, and to forfeit the economic opportunities at our fingertips to lead the world in these new energy technologies.  Powerful corporate interests are more than glad to contribute to these efforts to stalemate any progress.

What we are debating today is whether business as usual is good enough for the environmental challenges and economic opportunities that are already starkly before us.  We are being asked to overturn with a political veto, the strong scientific evidence that points the way to a healthier future.  We are being asked to undermine America’s ability to clean our air and our waters.

The science is clear, greenhouse gases are a danger, and they are a clear and present health and economic threat to the American people.  At a time when our Nation is responding to our worst environmental catastrophe of all time and oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, passing this resolution would be a declaration that nothing has changed or should change. 

It is a declaration that we are content to keep relying on the outdated, dirty and inefficient energy technologies of the past, and to let every other industrialized nation leap in front of us in developing and selling these new technologies.  This is another proposed bailout of big polluters.

Is this the path we really want to chart for our children and our Nation?  A decade from now, would we be able to look back at a vote for this resolution without shame or regret?  EPA’s findings are based on sound science and an exhaustive review of scientific research that show the clear threat from climate change. 

Much of what the special interests, and Big Oil and their lobbyists have been saying in favor of this resolution is steeped, not in science, but in politics and mistruths.  What we really have here is an Environmental Protection Agency that is focused on protecting the American people -- whether it is arsenic in our drinking water, smog in the air, mercury in the fish we eat, or greenhouse gases.

Overturning these findings would be just like trying to overturn the science or policies on other major health issues in which we want EPA to enforce the laws to protect our health.

The proponents of this resolution have also made false claims to scare the American public that the EPA findings will hurt the American economy.  Quite the opposite, it is this resolution that will hurt our economy by causing the American people to forfeit a third of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that are projected to come from last year’s historic agreement between the Obama Administration, the states, and the nation’s automakers and autoworkers.

Overturning the EPA findings would force our nation’s already struggling automakers to spend even more money to produce more fuel-efficient cars because a dozen states, like Vermont and California, could then go forward, each with their own automobile rules and standards.  That is the formula for a confusing and expensive set of rules for all concerned.

We must continue our work to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation here in the Senate.  Congress so far has been blocked from debating and acting.  But in the meantime, we should and must not merely ignore the Clean Air Act and the polluting greenhouse gases that threaten the public health and welfare of the American people

Let us not be known as the Congress that continued to punt, pass and kick on some of the crucial issues like these, on which the American people are looking for solutions, not procrastination.

SOURCE Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy