A resolution that could have stopped or at least delayed the Environmental Protection Agency's assault against coal was rejected Thursday by the U.S. Senate - but by a narrow vote. Forty-seven senators agreed with the measure while 53 voted against it.
Among those voting "nay" on the proposal were Sens. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, voted in favor of the resolution, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Previously, Rockefeller had indicated he would vote in favor of the Murkowski resolution, which would have had the effect of rejecting EPA proposals concerning greenhouse gases. Rockefeller pointed out the EPA plan, if carried through, would be devastating to the coal industry and thus, to West Virginia. He took the reasonable position that the agency should not be permitted to take such action without the approval of Congress.
Brown previously had indicated he would vote against the Murkowski resolution, claiming Congress "should not legislate scientific findings." Brown's defense is ludicrous; Congress does that very thing regularly.
Byrd defended his vote on various grounds. He pointed out that President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the Murkowski resolution, even if it passed. And Byrd added he was unhappy the resolution was brought to a vote with no opportunity for amendments.
We disagree with Byrd, and more vehemently with Brown. Frankly, we do not believe Brown is on the side of Ohioans who will be hurt if the EPA proceeds with its assault on coal.
But Byrd may have another chance to vote in favor of clipping the EPA's wings, at least temporarily. Rockefeller also has introduced a measure to limit the agency's power concerning greenhouse gases - but only for two years, giving Congress time to debate the issue.
We urge Rockefeller to expedite his proposal - and we urge Byrd to support it. The EPA simply must be stopped. Time to do so is running out.