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Editorial: Kirk should back greenhouse gas regulation

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

The days of ignoring greenhouse gases should be behind us, making it particularly disappointing that U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is preparing to join forces with those who wish to do so.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote early this week on a bill that would revoke the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. The chief sponsor is Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Senate’s leading climate change denier.

Although Kirk is one of four Republicans who declined to co-sponsor the measure, he has indicated he intends to vote for it.

Kirk backs tax credits for renewable energy and doesn’t deny the risks of climate change, but environmentalists say he has been telling local groups that Congress, not the EPA, should address the problem.

That’s not a good enough reason to vote for this bill. Prospects for meaningful progress on climate change are little to none in the current Congress, where Republicans seem more focused on deconstructing the EPA. Stripping the agency of its regulatory power over greenhouse gases would take away our only tool against a significant and worsening threat.

Inhofe’s bill would bar the EPA from introducing rules on greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, such as power plants and oil refineries. It also could undermine the EPA’s existing rules raising vehicle fuel economy standards starting in the 2012 model year.

Backers of this bill and similar measures say current law gives the EPA virtual control over too wide a section of the nation’s economy. From the very beginning, environmental protection has been portrayed as a jobs killer, and this effort reprises that tiresome refrain.

We hope Kirk reconsiders and opts out of the anti-environment chorus.

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