Friday, July 11, 2008

US dodges economy-crushing bullet: EPA declines to regulate CO2 (for now)

Environmentalists rejoiced when scientists* sitting on the US Supreme Court ruled that the government had every right to regulate CO2 -- a gas essential for life on earth -- as a pollutant. Although it would seem a bit of a challenge to distinguish anthropogenic CO2 molecules from naturally-occurring ones (perhaps we could tag ours), or to prevent foreign-generated CO2 from mixing with domestic CO2, it appeared certain that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under mounting pressure from the greens, was ready to assert jurisdiction over nearly every aspect of human activity in America.

Stunningly, the Bush administration's EPA declined an opportunity that would in effect have given the environmentalists everything they wanted.

In its voluminous document [588 pages!], the EPA laid out a buffet of options on how to reduce greenhouse gases from cars, ships, trains, power plants, factories and refineries.

"One point is clear: The potential regulation of greenhouse gases under any portion of the Clean Air Act could result in unprecedented expansion of EPA authority that would have a profound effect on virtually every sector of the economy and touch every household in the land," the EPA's Johnson said in a preface to the federal notice.

EPA said that it encountered resistance from the Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Transportation departments, as well as the White House, that made it "impossible" to respond in a timely fashion to the Supreme Court decision.

"Our agencies have serious concerns with this suggestion because it does not fairly recognize the enormous — and, we believe, insurmountable — burdens, difficulties, and costs, and likely limited benefits, of using the Clean Air Act" to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the secretaries of the four agencies wrote to the White House on July 9.

So, we've dodged a bullet, at least until the next administration takes office. It seems that John McCain, although he has embraced much of the propaganda, is far less inclined than Barack Obama is to use a heavy-handed, bureaucratic end-run technique like this to advance the AGW agenda.

* (Tim wrote with a straight face)