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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?

By Jonathan Capehart  | March 4, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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The hold-up, Jonathan, is that any greenhouse bill POTUS would sign would constrict the availability and increase the price of fossil. All the people buzzing around town delivering refrigerators, fixing plumbing, getting to the office, making sales calls, and taking the kids to practice would pay way more to do their everyday tasks. Every penny the greens add to the cost of doing business will come out of payroll. That's the only thing left to cut. If green science put as much thought into bringing practical fossil alternatives to market as they do scaring people with global warming reports that are part truth and part hoodoo, a workable solution might actually emerge.

Posted by: shorton | March 4, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Quick action by Congress and the EPA to reduce CO2 radically is the prudent bet.

The melting of the Arctic is reducing the reflection of sunlight back into space. Melting permafrost is releasing both CO2 and methane (which has a much greater greenhouse effect than does CO2).Thus, melting of the Arctic is accelerating.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 100,000 people die each year, because of climate changes that have made droughts, storms, etc. more frequent and/or more extreme. CO2 is a HUMAN LIFE ISSUE!

Reducing fuelishness is something we have to do anyway. World oil consumption exceeds 30 billion barrels per year, but discoveries have been running less than 10 billion per year. Worse, the big discoveries recently have been very deep under seabeds under very deep water. An offshore drilling rig costs $1 billion to acquire and $500,000/day to operate.

Time is our most critical resource!

God Bless America!

Posted by: jamesabush | March 4, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The hubris demonstrated by such stupid actions amazes me. Man, in this particular case a politically driving administration, beleives that they can stop, change, or re-direct Mother Nature's changes. All without addressing the other several billion humans on the planet outside the U.S. If they believe the actions of 300M Americans can offset the actions of the other 4.7B+ humans they obviously are not smart enough to be ruining our Nation. Oh, sorry, I meant running our Nation.

Posted by: staterighter | March 4, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The hold-up, oh wise one, is that Congress does not have the votes to pass a cap-and-trade bill that regulates such a HUGE portion of the economy. Ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

As to the "track 2" that you mention, you describe it as though it was both inevitable and would serve as acceptable backup plan if Congress did not act. Neither of these silly assumptions is remotely true. First, it is 100% the fault of Obama, Lisa Jackson, and other irresponsible officials that Clean Air Act Regulation of GHGs is proceeding. The decision to light the fuse on that timebomb was both conscious and voluntary. Rather than follow responsible precedent on the GHG endangerment finding, EPA/Jackson made the conscious decision to put a gun to Congress' head and say, "if you don't act, we'll cause a trainwreck by regulating GHGs under the Clean Air Act." REAL SMART. REAL RESPONSIBLE. Give me what I want or I'll blow up the building. In other arenas this "strategy" would be called terrorism. Obama seems to think its a good tactic, in the same way that ramming health care down the unwilling throats of Americans is the responsible thing to do.

Our country will reward liberals for this type of irresponsible government by throwing their backsides to the curb over the next few election cycles. Good riddance!

Posted by: totalbs | March 4, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The melting of the Artic ice will create an open body of water, from which storms can come and rain/snow can fall, and instead of the artic desert you now have, with 6"/yr preciptition, you'll have 20-20" snow..ergo a new ice age.

The Artic was probably free of ice 30,000 years ago..New York City was under a thousand feet of glaciers.

Posted by: wjc1va | March 4, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

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