When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its proposal to regulate virtually the entire American economy by imposing unjustified and burdensome regulations on carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act, I joined a bipartisan group of senators in opposing yet another costly assault on our economy. Unfortunately, Senator Murkowski's Resolution of Disapproval of the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases failed on a 47-53 vote.
The Clean Air Act was never intended to regulate greenhouse gases. The law was passed in 1970 and revised in 1994 and gives the EPA the authority to regulate toxic substances and not gases accused of being "greenhouse gases." Recently, the EPA declared carbon dioxide to be a pollutant, giving itself regulatory power that Congress never intended. This action by EPA was designed as an attempt to force Congress to enact climate change legislation, a brazen act by an unelected bureaucracy undermining the Constitution.
What is carbon dioxide? Also known as CO2, it is a part of everyday life. When the earliest human being took their first breath, CO2 was discharged. Plants absorb carbon dioxide using photosynthesis and release it when they decay. Carbon dioxide sources can be found in many activities and its regulation will now be applied to schools, hospitals, farms and ranches, to name just a few.
A typical Clean Air Act permit costs $125,000. In addition, it is estimated that at least 800,000 jobs will be permanently lost under this regulation. While the EPA has said it does not plan to regulate smaller sources "before 2016," radical environmentalists have already filed suit against the EPA, saying it must do so. This lawsuit was filed one day after our resolution was voted down in the Senate.
I strenuously object to an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy creating and implementing regulations that will harm our economy and force people out of work. Congress is the appropriate place to have an open and transparent debate on the issue of climate change, where a full understanding of the costs involved and the impact to our economy can be made clear and a balance considered.
I have consistently taken the position that the best legislative approach, regardless of anyone's position on greenhouse gases, climate change and the like, is to encourage the new deployment of clean and affordable sources of electricity, particularly nuclear, while not taxing the consumer with additional burdens.
This debate over EPA's regulation of carbon dioxide is just beginning. As the economic and other impacts of these regulations begin to be understood, many in Congress will be asked by their constituencies why they supported a bureaucratic agency over American families and jobs. I predict they will have a difficult time answering that question.