EPA greenhouse gas finding allows Congress to duck legislative responsibility

Patrick J. Michaels [Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies, Cato Institute; Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia]: "When the US Environmental Protection Agency determined that carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases "endanger public health and welfare," they virtually guaranteed that the Executive Branch will be responsible for promulgating and enforcing mandatory reductions in the use of fossil fuels, without the advice and consent of Congress.

When EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the finding, she also said that the Obama Administration preferred that greenhouse-gas emissions be regulated by Congress. But, in reality, the EPA's finding gives Congress a very good excuse to not pass an enormously expensive cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.

Global warming legislation will soon be introduced in the House. Current proposals mandate per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 - just 40 years from today - to be what they were in 1867. This may pass the House, but the Senate is likely to punt this hot potato back to the EPA. Absent legislation, the EPA will act.

Why such certainty? The Obama Administration is top-heavy with climate change radicals, including Presidential Science Advisor John Holdren, Energy Secretary Chu and Climate Czarina Carol Browner. Even if Obama wants to go slow (he doesn't, but he is politic), there will be just too much pressure - of his own creation - that will throw caution to the wind.

Not that anything we do will have much of an effect on global temperature. Between 2000 and 2006, US total carbon dioxide emissions were virtually constant, rising a mere 0.7%. China's rose 103%, and by 2006 had passed us in emissions volume.

If the US had decided to emit zero carbon dioxide in 2000, the Chinese would have made up for our total and then some by next year. Do they have the same incentive to reduce emissions? No, they would rather export Chery automobiles.

The Administration's response to this dilemma was floated by Secretary Chu last month: tarrifs. These have a way of leading to trade wars, which have a historical way of leading to real wars.

Don't you think our legislators are breathing a sigh of relief after EPA's findings?"

 

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