Washington (CNN) - Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski vowed Tuesday to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to impose new limits on the emission of greenhouse gases.
The Senate on Thursday is expected vote on a "resolution of disapproval" by Murkowski that would prevent the EPA from further regulating air pollution from vehicles and industrial facilities.
Murkowski has the bipartisan support of 40 other senators, who may disagree with each other on the scientific impact of greenhouse gases, but who all agree that such regulations should be authorized by Congress, not an executive agency.
"The EPA intends to take control of climate policy, take it away from the Congress," Murkowski said at a press conference with eleven of her fellow Republican senators. "And I think those that are looking at this from the perspective of separate but equal branches of government look at this and say that this is absolutely unacceptable."
It is unclear whether there is enough support in the Senate to approve the measure, but its prospects in the House are slim. Regardless, the White House on Tuesday issued a veto threat if it makes it to President Obama's desk.
"[The Murkowski resolution] would undermine the Administration's efforts to reduce the negative impacts of pollution and the risks associated with environmental catastrophes, like the ongoing BP oil spill," said a White House policy statement.
At issue is a Supreme Court ruling from 2007 which determined that the E.P.A. has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the rules of the Clean Air Act. In December 2009, the EPA concluded scientific findings and declared that carbon dioxide and five other gases constitute pollutants that should be further restricted. And the agency announced in April new rules for vehicles: a mandatory increase in fuel efficiency coupled with reductions in gas emissions, starting with 2012 model years.
Lisa Jackson, the EPA Administrator, wrote a column Monday in the Huffington Post accusing Murkowski of siding with "big oil companies and their lobbyists" in an effort to "take away EPA's ability to protect the health and welfare of Americans from greenhouse gas pollution."
Supporters of Murkowski's resolution say that the Clean Air Act was never intended to give federal agencies full control over greenhouse regulations, but rather to check industrial and commercial structures. Such regulatory decisions, they argue, should be made by Congress.
"I think the EPA needs to understand it's not the fourth branch of government," said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, who supports the limits on EPA. "Just because they are dissatisfied with the level of progress of the legislative branch doesn't empower them to become super legislators."
Nelson's sentiment is echoed by fellow Democrats Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas. The only Republicans not currently signed on as co-sponsors are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
Murkowski said she is leading this effort not because she is a skeptic of global warming, but because she wants Congress to be proactive on new environmental policies.
"We are not going after the science, that was not my intention," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he wants the Senate to approve new energy legislation this summer to address both global warming and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.