by Jim Ball
GOOD NEWS: Four separate efforts to strip, delay, or modify the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) authority to regulate greenhouse gases and have our country move forward in overcoming global warming were defeated late this afternoon in the Senate.
50 Senators voted to uphold the EPA's authority, meaning that the opponents of action to protect the poor and vulnerable from global warming thankfully were not even able to muster a simple majority. (Sixty votes were needed on this vote to pass.)
Unfortunately, 50 Senators also voted to strip EPA's authority, including the following: Pryor (D-AR), Snowe (R-ME), Manchin (D-WV), Graham (R-SC), Landrieu (D-LA), Kirk (R-IL), Nelson (D-NE), and Lugar (R-IN).
On the Democratic side, it's especially disappointing to see Senators Pryor and Landrieu vote against EPA's ability to overcome global warming.
A key Democrat who voted for delay (the Rockefeller Amendment) but not to strip EPA's authority (the McConnell/Inhofe Amendment) was Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who is up for reelection in a state that just elected Roy Blunt, a conservative Republican, as Missouri's other Senator. That probably explains why she threaded the needle in this fashion. I would hope that if her vote were the deciding one she would not have voted for delay.
On the Republican side, Senators Graham, Snowe, and Lugar have all been leaders on efforts to overcome global warming, but sadly were on the wrong side of this vote. Snowe and Lugar are both up for reelection.
The 50 votes to affirm the EPA should help to stiffen the spine of the Obama Administration and Majority Leader Reid in their budget struggles with the House Republicans, as perhaps a greater threat to the EPA's authority could lie in the anti-environmental riders passed by the House to defund the EPA's regulation of global warming pollution. As I write, the fate of the EPA's authority still hangs in the balance in the budget negotiations, which are currently in stalemate and could lead to a government shut-down.
Thus, it is vital for President Obama and Majority Leader Reid to hang tough and resist these anti-environmental riders.
While ultimately we won these votes, it also shows how much work we have left to do to create the support necessary to have our elected officials do the right thing. Having more evangelical Christians who are actively engaged in the fight to overcome global warming will go a long way to creating such support. We must play our part and live up to the gift of our citizenship and the Lordship of Christ who is leading the way in overcoming global warming.
The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President for Policy and Climate Change at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.