The White House today threatened to veto a Senate effort to block federal climate rules as Democrats continue to link Thursday's vote to the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The resolution from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to undo EPA's authority to issue climate regulations would undermine the administration's efforts to reduce the "risks associated with environmental catastrophes, like the ongoing BP oil spill," the Statement of Administration Policy says.
"The measure would undo EPA's carefully constructed approach to reducing pollution generated by the largest oil companies, oil refineries, and other large-scale polluters," the document adds.
U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also tied the resolution to the oil industry and the Gulf spill in a speech today to a small business conference. The resolution "will double down on the energy and environmental policies that feed our oil addiction," Jackson said in prepared remarks, adding, "The BP oil spill is a tragic reminder of the hazards of our oil addiction."
Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), also sought to link the Murkowski resolution to the Gulf spill.
"Even with thousands of barrels of oil still gushing into the Gulf, Republicans are trying to hand a $47 billion giveaway to big oil companies later this week," Manley said in a statement. "This giveaway, otherwise known as the Murkowski disapproval resolution, is backed by oil company lobbyists because it would increase the nation's consumption of oil by at least 455 million barrels, and probably waste several billion more."
Murkowski and her supporters fired back.
"There have been a lot of statements of late about the intent of this legislation -- somehow or other that this is now tied to Big Oil in view of what we're seeing with the spill in the Gulf," Murkowski said. "But ultimately, this resolution is about protecting the economy and preventing agency overreach, it's as simple as that."
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) called attempts to link the spill to the resolution a "bait-and-switch political move."
"It was very clear there were not the votes in the Senate to do a cap-and-trade bill and that the whole process was going to die," Bennett said. "Then we got the oil spill, and all of a sudden, somehow there is some connection between the EPA and the oil spill. There's an attempt to turn the attention of the American people away from what's happening with respect to the oil spill and say, 'What we really should be doing to protect the environment is give all this new power to the EPA.'"
Reid predicts failure
Reid, meanwhile, predicted that the Senate would oppose Murkowski's measure Thursday.
"It appears we're going to be OK, but you never know until the vote takes place," Reid said.
Murkowski has 40 co-sponsors for the measure, including three Democrats. The resolution would need 51 votes to clear the chamber using the Congressional Review Act, which provides special procedures for rejecting agency rules.
Michigan Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow said today that they plan to vote against the resolution.
Levin said he plans to oppose the measure in part because it goes against a scientific EPA finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare and also because it threatens the joint EPA and Transportation Department rule setting uniform national emission standards for automobiles.
"I'm opposing it," Stabenow said. "I think it's wrong to challenge a scientific finding about whether or not climate change exists. And that's what the resolution does. It just goes too far."
Click here to read the White House statement.
Reporter Noelle Straub contributed.