Speaking at a sparsely-attended luncheon in Fairbanks, AK on Friday, Senator Murkowski (R-AL) touted her failed effort to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions as a ‘badge of honor.’ She went on to explain why she considered the maneuver, which went down by a 53-47 margin on June 10th, a qualified success. “We made our point. Forty-seven members of the Senate said they do not want to allow the agency to set climate change policy,” she said.
As luck would have it, another institution has plans to ‘set climate change policy’ in the weeks ahead — the United States Senate. And fortunately for Senator Murkowski, as a United States Senator, she has the power to influence that process as it plays out. By all indications, Senator Murkowski should be a leading Republican in these negotiations. In response to the announcement of a new Climate Science Center at the University of Alaska earlier this year, she rightly called the state ‘ground zero for climate change.’ Last September Murkowski told reporters that Congress needs to work on climate change but should take its time considering options. And by all accounts, the Senate has done just that in the past nine months, trying and giving up on a variety of approaches deemed too controversial to attract significant Republican support.
But now there are a several proposals and a handful of standalone measures on the table. A group of seventeen Senators — which includes Senator Murkowski — will be meeting with President Obama Tuesday to discuss a path forward. Majority Leader Reid has indicated he’ll be moving the legislation immediately after July recess.
If Senator Murkowski intends to play a constructive role in this process, her opportunity is now. Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Senator Murkowski, claims she intends to play such a role, citing her support of Senator Lugar’s energy legislation. According to Dillon, Murkowski supports “Sen. Lugar’s latest efforts to address climate.” Perhaps sensing the angle I was pursuing, he added, “so any accusation that she opposes dealing with emissions is completely false.”