American Elephants

Reining In The Out-of-Control EPA by The Elephant's Child

Background:  The Clean Air Act (CAA) was enacted in 1970 by Congress to deal with the problem of air pollution.  Anyone who flew into Los Angeles in those days could look down at a sea of yellow-brown smog, and other cities had their own problems.   The act was updated in 1990.

In 2007, the Supreme Court was faced with Massachusetts v. EPA in which a 5-4 majority ruled that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide were indeed “pollutants” under the definitions of the Clean Air Act, thereby giving the EPA jurisdiction to regulate such gases if they were determined to be dangerous to public health.

Environmental organizations had petitioned the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Act and had encouraged states to ask for federal authority to impose their own regulations on automobile emissions.  The Bush EPA took the position that it did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and would not do so even if it did have the legal authority.

Once the Supreme Court ruled, it became inevitable that the EPA would move to regulate.  Do not underestimate the power and wealth of environmental organizations. The agency itself is a hotbed of environmental activists. The Clean Air Act was an unqualified success, for air pollution was mainly a technological problem, expensive, but imposing no constraint on the use of fuel or energy.

To regulate CO2 as a pollutant that is hazardous to human health is more than a stretch.  When we inhale, we absorb the oxygen and exhale CO2.  CO2 is one of the essential basic building blocks of life — no CO2, no life.  President Obama has said more than once in a speech that CO2 is poisoning our water, ignoring that the fizz in our sodas comes from CO2.

Career employees at the EPA suggested that the EPA was ignoring the science of global warming, but were told that “The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.” Don’t trouble us with facts.

Since that time, the ClimateGate scandal exposed the fraud of global warming and the IPCC has been discredited. Also discredited was the case asserting that global warming was anything other than normal variation in a climate that is always changing.  The Himalayan glaciers are not melting, Arctic sea ice continues to melt in the summer and freeze in the winter and the polar bears are just fine.

This week, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have announced separate plans to block the Obama administration from its efforts to accomplish by regulation what it could not accomplish by passing cap-and-trade.

Republicans in both chambers are writing bills to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate “greenhouse gases” under the Clean Air Act, while a group of Democrat senators have reintroduced legislation forcing a two-year delay in EPA regulations, giving Congress time to write its own rules.  Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D- W Va) and six other Democrats are attempting to secure a future for the coal industry, which produces the largest part of our energy.

President Obama seems to believe that his vision of a clean green energy economy will produce jabs and prosperity for the country.  Yet the facts from energy experts and the experience of countries who have preceded us in expensive experiments with  wind and solar energy belie his hopeful scenario.

Climate change and the environmental issues involved have long since left the realm of science and devolved into a mixture of religion and politics.  This is deeply unfortunate since it should be a matter of science and fact.  At the very least, such bills will put the EPA on notice that they do not have permanent free rein.

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