Senate votes "no" on the Dirty Air Act.
The Senate has cast its vote on Senator Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) "Dirty Air Act" and the results look good (sort of). The Senate voted the motion to proceed to her resolution, S.J. Res. 26, down 53-47.
The Dirty Air Act would have severely weakened the Clean Air Act, one of the most influential pieces of environmental legislation in the history of the United States.
The Dirty Air Act would have vetoed the EPA's finding released in December, 2009 “that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare” and would have blocked the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (i.e. establish fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for vehicles).
As reported previously, even the auto industry's biggest trade group opposed Murkowski's Dirty Air Act.
A light beams through the cracks today, despite the ongoing BP oil spill disaster. Unfortunately, however, the vote still showed strong support for dirty energy. Every single Republican and six Democrats -- Landrieu (La.), Lincoln (Ark.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Ben Nelson (ND), Bayh (Ind.), and Rockefeller (WV) -- voted for the legislation.
In the end, clear science was (barely) backed up by the Senate and the EPA still has the legal right to regulate greenhouse gases. The upcoming battle around climate and clean energy legislation is more complicated, but hopefully a few more Senators will find the courage to vote in support of addressing climate change and promoting clean energy. And there is hope. A few Senators who voted for the Dirty Air Act indicated that they wanted Congress, not the EPA, to adopt measures to address oil dependency and climate change pollution in the US.
With recent oil and coal catastrophes illuminating the dangers of fossil fuel dependency beyond climate change, perhaps the Senate will soon pass important climate and clean energy legislation as well.
Image Credit: Phil Romans via flickr/CC license