WASHINGTON – Senator Scott Brown this morning joined a push to limit federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, saying the effort to curb the carbon-emitting gases brings unwarranted regulations that would hurt businesses.
Brown said he would support a resolution being pushed by Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, that would limit powers given to the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act. The Senate is expected to vote this afternoon on the measure, which is adamantly opposed by environmental groups and the Obama administration.
“This action would give an unelected and unaccountable government agency the power to impose restrictive and damaging carbon dioxide regulations that will drive up energy prices and hurt job-creating small businesses in our country,” Brown wrote in an op-ed published this morning in the Cape Cod Times. “The bottom line is that we cannot have every restaurant owner or small farmer worried about the costs of complying with new carbon dioxide emissions restrictions.”
The EPA has ruled that greenhouse gases threaten public health, and has imposed new regulations set to take effect next year. Those regulations would require existing plants that increase greenhouse gas emissions by 75,000 tons annually to get a permit. New plants that emit more than 100,000 tons annually would also have to get permits.
Murkowski's resolution has 40 co-sponsors, including three Democrats – Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Brown’s support would bring the vote count to at least 42. It needs 51 votes to pass. Several Democrats are thought to be potential targets for voting in favor, although the White House has threatened to veto it.
Senator John Kerry adamantly opposes the measure and, if it passes, it would disrupt a major argument for his climate change legislation. A key bargaining chip for Kerry has been that the EPA’s regulations would be more far-reaching than Congressional ones. Kerry’s bill would prohibit the EPA from developing its own rules, while instead putting a price on carbon emissions. Brown has not taken a stance on Kerry’s bill.
“Bay State businesses don't need is the federal government arbitrarily passing down restrictions that would dramatically restrict their potential for growth by saddling them with higher costs,” Brown wrote in the op-ed.
“Now is not the time to further increase energy prices, add to administrative costs for businesses, and create massive new layers of government bureaucracy,” he added.
He also said that unelected administration officials should not be deciding the policy, and that it should instead be debated in Congress.
Americans United for Change, a liberal, Washington-based non-profit, has been running ads in Massachusetts urging Brown to vote against the resolution.