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Senate Votes Today on Handcuffing EPA

June 10, 2010

BOSTON - Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Laurie Burt has written to Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle urging them to stop Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's attempt to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from developing rules that regulate the emissions of large polluters, such as power plants. Burt says that it is extremely important to allow the EPA to continue to do it's job - especially in the absence of federal climate-change legislation.

"This particular amendment that is before us really raises a very perplexing problem, which would be to strip EPA of its existing authority under existing law."

Burt says the Massachusetts DEP supports strong federal climate legislation, and it's important that the Clean Air Act remain intact.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the legislation today. Proponents of the legislation argue that the rules on cleaning up vehicle emissions and power plants are too expensive.

Murkowski and other supporters of the resolution, including a handful of Democrats, say the resolution will protect important industries and jobs from being regulated out of existence. Trip Van Noppen, president of >Earthjustice, says the people backing the provision have it backwards.

"It's leaving things the way they are that's not working. It's too expensive, it's costing us jobs, it's killing people with air pollution, and we have to make a change."

If the resolution passes, he warns, it will undermine the investments New England states have made in
wind, solar, renewables and energy efficiency. President Obama has promised to veto Murkoswki's resolution if it's passed.

Van Noppen points out that Murkowski is the Senate's biggest recipient of power company campaign donations.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA