Blogs - Blogs
June 10, 2010

Posted by David Lungren


What an odyssey it's been: in 1999, a little-known environmental group petitioned EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from cars.  Then-EPA Administrator Carol Browner dithered, and punted the decision to the Bush Administration.  In 2003, EPA justly rejected the petition, on the grounds that it had no authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate GHGs.  Lawsuits followed, and the DC Circuit upheld EPA.  The case went to the Supreme Court, and in a 5 to 4 decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, the Court ruled that CO2 is a pollutant under the CAA, and that EPA must decide whether GHGs endanger public health and welfare-or conclude that the science is so uncertain that it can't decide either way.

The Bush EPA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), outlining the parade of horribles that would ensue from regulating under the CAA.  Enter President Obama and his carbon-obsessive EPA.  The choice was finally made: we find endangerment.  It was the wrong choice.

It was the wrong choice because, as numerous legal experts and the very congressman (John Dingell) who wrote the controlling legislation have said, the CAA wasn't designed to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  EPA has confronted that inconvenient reality in the CAA's unremitting emissions thresholds (250 tons per year) designed to deal with localized pollution, yet create "absurd results" when applied to CO2, as EPA itself has conceded. 

"Absurd results" are EPA regulating schools, hospitals, nursing homes, commercial buildings, churches, restaurants, hotels, malls, colleges and universities, food processing facilities, farms, sports arenas, soda manufacturers, bakers, brewers, wineries, and many others.  EPA has waived this away by unilaterally changing the unequivocal emissions limits in the CAA and exempting these sources from GHG regulation.  There are 14 lawsuits pending against this "tailoring rule"; bet the farm the DC Circuit will overturn it and order EPA to deal with the legal obligation-which it unleashed by choice with the endangerment finding-to regulate the minutiae of daily life.

Various pretexts have been raised against the Murkowski resolution to overturn the endangerment finding.  We've heard Murkowski will hamstring NHTSA from implementing CAFE.  NHTSA's general counsel said that's false.  We've heard that the Murkowski resolution is an indictment of the scientific consensus on climate change.  Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute addressed this with characteristic precision and accuracy:  "The resolution would overturn the ‘legal force and effect' of the endangerment finding, not its reasoning or conclusions. It is a referendum not on climate science but on who should make climate policy." 

We've heard that the Murkowski resolution is a sop to Big Oil.  Tell that to: The Family Association of House Services for the Aged, Family Dairies USA, The Farm Bureau, The National Federation of Independent Business, The Brick Industry Association, The National Association of Manufacturers, Associated Builders and Contractors, The American Health Care Association, The North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, The Ohio Trucking Association, governors from 21 states-and on and on and on.

Rooted in the opposition to this resolution is a belief that fossil fuels are a destructive nuisance that must be eradicated, and that an unrelenting bureaucracy is the means of realizing a future without them.  But that belief, if carried out in the form of EPA's impending greenhouse gas regulatory regime, will mean a radical change to our way of life-a change that will mean fewer jobs, fewer American businesses, higher taxes, and more control of people's lives by a massive, unforgiving bureaucracy in Washington.

So, understand that the Murkowski resolution presents a fundamental challenge to that view-in the final analysis, it seeks to prevent EPA from realizing that radical agenda.  It's not about science, fuel economy, Big Oil, or any other such manufactured canard.  It's about putting Congress squarely in charge of deciding how to address climate change policy.  It's about holding Congress-not an unelected bureaucracy-accountable to the American people for decisions that could affect every aspect of their lives.  It's time to vote yes on Murkowski.


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