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Ned Helme

Ned Helme

Ned Helme, founder of the Center for Clean Air Policy, advises U.S. and foreign governments, on climate and air policy issues. ALL POSTS

EPA regulation is doable, legislation is preferable

Q: Do you think EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health will prod Congress to agree on its own method for limiting emissions? If not, what do you think would be the environmental and economic impact of the EPA regulations? Will this convince other countries that the U.S. is likely to make deep cuts in carbon in the near future?

With the Environment Protection Agency's endangerment finding that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger the public health and welfare, the Obama administration is now poised to regulate them from automobiles and large sources such as power plants and factories under the Clean Air Act. This finding was not unexpected since the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to make this finding in Massachusetts vs. EPA in 2007.

The announcement signals that the Obama Administration is serious about reducing GHG pollution. It could provide the President with important leverage for engaging the international community as it gathers in Copenhagen to create the building blocks of an international treaty to solve the global climate challenge. The international community is probably agnostic on how the U.S. regulates GHGs as long as it is able to meet its announced emissions reduction target and can make a concrete financial commitment toward implementing a new global agreement with the appropriate monitoring, reporting and verification. Whether the Clean Air Act alone will be able to generate the needed reductions will be determined later following an in-depth, bottom-up analysis of regulatory options across a range of industry sectors.

It is unclear if the endangerment finding will prod Congress to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation, but it should. While EPA regulation is doable, a legislative solution is preferable and here is why. The total expected reductions and costs associated with regulating GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act are highly uncertain. Furthermore, the Clean Air Act does not explicitly authorize use of cap-and-trade and other cost-saving market-based approaches best suited to controlling carbon pollution. And other policy ideas are not authorized under the Act, including a carbon tax and the auctioning of allowances to support GHG reduction, technology manufacturing and deployment or research.

It seems to me that Congress would prefer to maintain its legislative authority to design a climate program that is cost-effective, that generates the revenue that can be used for investments in new clean energy technologies and that avoids the unforeseen consequences of EPA regulation. Congress has made important strides this year to pass comprehensive market-based climate and energy policy that would establish a price for carbon emissions throughout the economy. Significant forward momentum now exists for legislative action, but substantial barriers remain. No one can guarantee when, or if, a bill might be passed. The prospect of EPA regulation should give Congress reason to act quickly.

By Ned Helme  |  December 9, 2009; 1:59 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The threat of bad regulations doesn't make a bad treaty any better | Next: A finding based on inescapable evidence


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The EPA is choosing the harder more complicated method that does not solve the problem.

New technology, jobs and money are not the solution; they continue the same employment lifestyle that pollutes our air, land, water and food leading to disease and death. It leads to corruption, bribery etc. like the Climate Change ideas in Copenhagen.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference process is

Reducing CO2 emissions cuts growth capacity of plants necessary for SURVIVAL.

Signing a BINDING AGREEMENT under United Nations takes away FREEDOM.

Promising poor nations money to sign a binding agreement is bribery to take their authority to govern their resources leading to conflicts and wars.

CAP and TRADE is a loophole for rich nations to avoid compliance and
it invites and creates bribery, corruption, bondage and servitude.

The employment lifestyle causes the world problems.
A garden paradise lifestyle would reverse and solve them easily, quickly, fairly and inexpensively. It is the only sustainable lifestyle that reverses and solves the pollution of our air, land, water and food, energy crisis, disease, war, immigration, reoccurring financial crises, and social problems including youth and elderly care.

The Employment Lifestyle Failed. The Garden Paradise Life Wins.
Let's Learn the Lesson Now.

Posted by: MarieDevine | December 13, 2009 9:19 PM
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All of you really want crap and tax primarily because you're all *vested* in this. People will make money, most of us will be poorer and it will make no difference to climate.

Vanhook99, with all due respect, the EPA really has no right to overrule congress; this is more of a political thing.

Think of it this way:

1) The voters are rejecting crap and tax.

2) Thus the Democrats in congress will not do it.

3) So Obama and congressional leaders get together say they'll have the token head of the EPA say they're "regulating" it

4) People in congress think they're being given political cover to pass crap and tax "Oh, the big bad EPA made us do it"

5) Only true believers (and they are quickly disappearing) believe the press, most see the reality.

It's this sort of stuff that is making Obama into Jimmy-one-term and will make Republicans into the majority party over the next 4 years.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | December 12, 2009 6:44 AM
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It is idiotic to call C02 a pollutant. The EPA is just the administration's way of blackmailing Congress. Ned Helme is just another eco-fascist and propagandist of junk science. Everyone now knows that ideology trumps honest science. Ignore people like Ned. They have as much credibility as the "scientists" hired by the tobacco industry. The good news is that progressively fewer average Americans are not buying it. You should hear the "global warming" jokes! It is better to laugh at them than take them seriously.

Posted by: vanhook99 | December 11, 2009 9:13 PM
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