Tuesday, December 8, 2009

EPA declares carbon dioxide a danger to our health and welfare

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Environmental Protection Agency said greenhouse gases are a danger to public health and welfare in a decision that could eventually lead to new emissions regulations.

The so-called "endangerment finding" announced Monday by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is necessary to move ahead on new emission standards for cars, while potentially opening up large emitters such as power plants, crude-oil refineries and chemical plants to limits on their output of carbon dioxide and other gases.

"These long overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the U.S. government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform," Ms. Jackson said in a statement.

The controversial decision, which the Obama administration indicated it would make earlier this year, comes as a global climate summit opens in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The move has been opposed by many business groups and lawmakers who fear it will place a burden on the economy.

The endangerment finding sets up regulation of greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act, which some experts warn would be much more blunt than climate-change legislation crafted by Congress.
The "long overdue" description seems a bit disingenuous to me.  In light of the roadblocks to passing cap and trade in the Senate, recent revelations of possible climate data fraud in the East Anglian email scandal, and the high profile opening of the Copenhagen climate conference yesterday, I'd say Ms. Jackson's announcement was timed just perfectly for the Obama administration.  The President cannot afford the appearance of another defeat in Copenhagen.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners' Association (NPRA) also questioned the timing:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Charles T. Drevna, President of NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, today questioned the basic foundation and timing of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas endangerment finding given the lack of scientific clarity and the international politics involved with the United Nations Climate Change Conference opening this week in Copenhagen.

“The implications of today’s action by EPA are far-reaching,” Drevna said. “Individual American consumers and businesses alike will be dramatically affected by this decision that, frankly, is based on selective science, a weak legal and policy foundation, and a failure to account for numerous uncertainties and assumptions in the models it relies on. This is yet another example of federal policymakers failing to consider the long-term consequences of a regulatory action for consumers and the economy as a whole.

“Given the remaining uncertainties over the extent to which China and India will meaningfully engage in the Copenhagen negotiations, it is hardly the time the risk the remainder of the U.S. industrial sector in an attempt to achieve a short-term international public relations victory.”
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed concern about how resulting EPA regulation will hurt businesses.

An EPA endangerment finding "could result in a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project," U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said in a statement. "The devil will be in the details, and we look forward to working with the government to ensure we don't stifle our economic recovery," he said, noting that the group supports federal legislation.
The National Association of Manufacturers released a statement on the finding which said, in part:
The NAM is concerned that the EPA did not seriously take into consideration any of the thousands of comments manufacturers made on this proposal. The endangerment finding will have a cascading effect on the ability of all manufacturers to grow and prosper. By declaring GHG emissions a threat to public health and welfare through its endangerment finding, the EPA is paving the way to begin regulating carbon emissions across the board, including large stationary sources such as manufacturing plants, hospitals and libraries under the Clean Air Act.

Let me be clear: the NAM supports cost-effective efforts to address climate change but believes the appropriate authority to address this should be Congress. The EPA is moving forward with an agenda that will put additional burdens on manufacturers, cost jobs and drive up the price of energy. This finding comes when unemployment is hovering at 10 percent, and many manufacturers are struggling to stay in business. It is doubtful that this endangerment finding will achieve its stated goal, but it is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy.
There is something positively Orwellian going on here.  The President sponsors a "job summit" reminiscent of a college sociology seminar, while pushing full steam ahead with legislative and extra-legislative initiatives that will destroy the U.S. economy.

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