Cap-and-pain sinks Dems

Steve Milloy Contributor
Font Size:

Sometime before June 7, the so-called Murkowski resolution to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases will be voted on in the Senate. Democrats up for re-election this fall may want to think twice about a knee-jerk “no” vote.

Finalized last December but not yet implemented, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases would be even worse economically than cap-and-trade, which is already bad enough. (How bad is cap-and-trade? So bad that massive Democrat congressional majorities can’t pass it.)

EPA greenhouse gas regulation would empower the agency to control energy use (and, hence, the economy) without any of the potential ameliorative effects from the trade part of cap-and-trade or the dividend part of Cantwell-Collins’ cap-and-dividend. EPA regulation would just be cap-and-pain.

Some quick-learning Democratic senators, like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln, and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson have already figured out the politics of EPA cap-and-pain. They joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski when the resolution was introduced in January.

But senators like Colorado’s Michael Bennett, Nevada’s Harry Reid, and North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan are still dithering hoping that Murkowski will either not bring her resolution to the floor for a vote or that it will be overtaken by a separate effort by West Virginia’s Jay Rockfeller that would delay EPA regulation for two years.

But Sen. Murkowski seems undeterred in what could be the only Senate vote this year on climate.

Given the ornery mood of the electorate — ask Utah’s Bob Bennett or Indiana’s Evan Bayh — it should be a no-brainer for Senate Democrats to vote for Murkowski. After all, it’s really a free vote for them since even if a similar bill passed the House, President Obama would surely veto it and the EPA would not be curbed. At least they could claim they tried to do the right thing.

Yet Senate Democrats seem willing to go on record as supporting EPA control and destruction of the economy. How they expect this will help them other than with their extreme leftie supporters (who are not numerous enough to get them elected to anything) is anyone’s guess.

The original idea behind EPA regulation was to force businesses to capitulate and swallow cap-and-trade. But that hasn’t happened. The Climategate scandal has given new life to lawsuits challenging EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. Businesses — even some that are for cap-and-trade — oppose cap-and-pain and are ready to fight.

The vote on the Murkowski resolution will be close. Should it fall a vote or two short, you can bet on that vote being a major issue this fall in Senate races. Should the EPA actually try to regulate greenhouse gases starting in 2011, you can bet that the 2012 election will take an even greater toll on the Democrat Party.
There is no political upside to permitting EPA to implement cap-and-pain. Clear thinking Senate Democrats will figure that out sooner rather than too-later.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them (Regnery 2009).