Senator Murkowski’s Opportunity to Lead

NWF   |   January 19, 2010

Larry Schweiger Alaska Brown Bear Aug 08

By Larry J. Schweiger

Senator Murkowski of Alaska has a unique opportunity to lead America’s response to slow climate change and respond to the damage already occurring in her state by working with Senators Graham, Lieberman and Kerry to advance a legislative solution to our global warming crisis that works for Alaska and America.

Instead, Ms. Murkowski’s may put forth two misguided proposals to delay action on climate change described in the New York Times Editorial “Ms. Murkowski’s Mischief.” One proposal would limit or delay the Clean Air Act and its measures to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change. The other would veto the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent scientific determination that climate change endangers public health and environment.

Either of these efforts would allow unlimited emissions of carbon pollution from the biggest corporate polluters and could stall the growth in clean energy jobs by creating uncertainty about our government’s commitment to a cleaner energy future.

Any delay will be particularly bad for Alaska, as Alaska is responsible for less than 1% of the U.S. carbon pollution yet Alaska’s climate is changing far more rapidly than the rest of the country, threatening Alaska’s economy, public health and wildlife. The very existence of several villages is now threatened, millions of acres of forests have died from climate-related stressors, and much of the state’s infrastructure is bracing for damage from thawing permafrost. Recognizing the importance of leadership at this critical time, a number of Alaskan leaders (including Republicans for Environmental Protection) are vigorously opposing Sen. Murkowski’s “Dirty Air Act.”

I hope Senator Murkowski will reconsider her proposals and instead take this opportunity to lead the Senate in delivering more jobs, less pollution and greater security for Alaska and America by passing comprehensive climate and energy legislation.