The liberal nonprofit Moveon.org unveiled an ad campaign this week attacking three Democratic senators co-sponsors of Lisa Murkowskiâ€™s (R-AL) effort to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. The effort, which has earned the nickname â€œthe Dirty Air Act,â€ has nearly unanimous Republican support.
Murkowski dismissively referred to any such EPA regulation as a â€œmassive, unwarranted expansionâ€ of its role in safeguarding our environment, â€œa role that it cannot fulfill without serious and detrimental consequences.â€
But Murkowski conspicuously fails to articulate the nature of these detrimental consequences, instead painting them in ambiguous financial terms. In the same motion, she presents herself as â€œcommitted to safeguarding the economy from EPA rules and regulations.â€
Close ties with the oil and gas lobby, however, beg the question: whose finances is she safeguarding? Said lobby has contributed more money to Murkowskiâ€™s campaign than all but two of her senate colleagues: David Vitter (R-LA), whose counsel said â€œglobal warming could well be the greatest act of scientific fraud in history,â€ and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), a co-sponsor of this so-called â€œDirty Air Actâ€ and a target of Moveon.orgâ€™s ad campaign.
Of course, few will dispute that an adequate response to global warming requires substantial social and economic changes. Greener industries will emerge at the expense of older, environmentally-taxing ones, and it will not be a painless process. Nevertheless, itâ€™s small-change compared to the costs of inaction.
Naturally, the old barons arenâ€™t going quietly into the night, resigned to watch the bottom line drop out from under them. They are pushing back, pressuring the very seats of power they helped to fill. In this light, Murkowski is little more than a shill, more concerned with pleasing her corporate donors than her constitutents, who happen to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
As such, Murkowskiâ€™s opposition is the strongest endorsement for expanding the EPA, thereby placing greenhouse gas regulation beyond the reach of lobbyistsâ€™ money. The Environmental Protection Agencyâ€™s science-based approach is the surest path to a sober analysis and appropriate response, and these, not oil profits, are what deserve our safeguarding.