If Congress won't act the EPA must
Efforts by Congress to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's endangerment finding on carbon are astounding. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has made it her big issue. She and a powerful pack of Democrats rail against faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats making decisions that will affect the nation's economy. I get that. Totally understandable. But here's what I don't get. If Congress is so concerned why can't it get its act together and control greenhouse gas emissions so the EPA doesn't have to?
When President Obama took office, he adopted a dual track approach to addressing climate change. Track One was his preferred track, Congress. Legislation had been rattling around the Capitol for a few years. He urged the legislature to move and plunked $600 billion from anticipated pollution permit proceeds in his first budget. Track Two was the EPA, and it was meant to stiffen the spine of Congress as it moved along Track One. Obama freed it to follow through on the Supreme Court's 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA found that the agency had the authority to control emissions from motor vehicle tailpipes and must exercise it.
If Congress failed to act, the EPA would. And because the EPA's processes are lengthy (we're talking years) and go sector by sector, there would be plenty of time for the people's representatives to devise a plan to regulate carbon and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Instead, the House passed the deeply flawed Waxman-Markey bill. Meanwhile, efforts in the Senate have gone nowhere. The cap-and-trade bill offered by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) made it out of committee and promptly was declared dead-on-arrival for a floor vote. Meanwhile, Kerry joined forces with Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) to draft a compromise bill. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have devised an utterly sensible cap-and rebate plan. And then there's Murkowski's battle with the EPA and its Administrator Lisa Jackson.
This is nutty.
The EPA is following a law passed by Congress and that the Supreme Court ordered be followed. The president and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have said over and over again that they want Congress to pass comprehensive climate change legislation. They have had and will have plenty of time to get it done. So, folks, what's the hold up?
| March 4, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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