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Reid Detchon

Reid Detchon

Reid Detchon is vice president for energy and climate at the United Nations Foundation. He also serves as executive director of the Energy Future Coalition, a broad-based non-partisan public policy initiative focused on oil dependence, climate change, and global energy poverty.

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Whatever works, just do it

Q: Should EPA keep pressing ahead with new greenhouse gas rules, or should it accept Congress will shape the future of any mandatory limits on carbon dioxide?"

The conventional wisdom around Washington is that it is better for Congress to legislate on climate change than for EPA to regulate. That is correct only if Congress can and does act effectively.

Certainly Congress has more ability than EPA to create a flexible, targeted program of action integrated with national energy policy. However, EPA regulation is preferable to a bill that coddles the coal industry and allows electric utilities to keep using their old, energy-wasting, pollution-spewing antiques. The Post reported last week that 71 percent of the people it surveyed support federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2007, the Supreme Court found that "greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's capacious definition of air pollutant." In response, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last year made an "endangerment finding" - that the current and projected concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere "threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations." She has laid out a cautious, step-by-step approach to regulate large-scale sources of carbon pollution. That can work just as well in the utility sector as the acid rain cap did in the 1990s. Taking away EPA's authority would set a dangerous precedent for environmental protection in the United States.

Nor is the importance of EPA's authority limited to greenhouse gases. Over the next three years, EPA will issue several new regulations dealing with conventional pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Those could shift a very substantial part of our generating capacity from coal to lower-carbon natural gas in conjunction with direct regulation of greenhouse gases.

The globe just recorded the warmest March, the warmest April, and the warmest May since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. The period from January to May was the warmest on record. Hello! Whether Congress or EPA, the only path that is unacceptable is inaction.

By Reid Detchon  |  June 17, 2010; 7:34 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Just in case anyone actually monitors these comments, the comment page for the level above this one (should EPA...) is broken. This is the error message:

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Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | July 8, 2010 8:28 AM
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So there has been maybe a 0.7C temperature increase in the past century and some part of it was caused by CO2. The temperature rise itself has questionable components because the thermometers are poorly placed and then not properly adjusted for heat produced by asphalt, air conditioners, and city buildup.

Regulating CO2 in the USA will result in no meaningful change in world wide CO2 because the Chinese and the Indians and many others are increasing CO2 emissions from coal fired power plants as fast as they can build them.

Regulating CO2 will cost American jobs, increase expenses and accomplish nothing except that some environmentalists will be pleased because 'at least we tried'.

Congress should prevent the EPA from continuing down a path that harms the country and benefits only bureaucrats, windmill manufacturers, and the like.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | July 8, 2010 8:14 AM

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | July 8, 2010 8:27 AM
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The warmest months since 1880 how about the previous 200 years before that? The previous 500, a 1000? This is all based on a miniscule slice of climate history in order to bolster a theory that a small group of scientist and a large group of leftist are clinging to. The scientist see the money the leftist see control. The people see through both groups and these draconian measures that are meant to control the people will never pass.

You complain about coal plants, well the reason 50% of our power is from coal is because the leftist stopped the nuclear program, stopped hydro electric the two clean and pratical sources of energy we have. Instead you push alternatives of wind and solar that cannot survive without massive government subsidies.

Posted by: Pilot1 | June 27, 2010 7:02 PM
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