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Robert J. Shapiro
Chairman, U.S. Climate Task Force

Robert J. Shapiro

Robert Shapiro, Under Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration, is chairman of the U.S. Climate Task Force and Sonecon, an economic advisory group. ALL POSTS

EPA strategy would be enviornmentally unreliable

Q: Given the gridlock in Congress over the climate bill, is the Obama administration's fallback strategy to let EPA regulate greenhouse gas emissions a good idea?

First, let's get our terms right: The possibility that EPA will regulate greenhouse gas emissions was decidedly not "the Obama administration's fallback strategy." It's come about because the Supreme Court held that EPA is bound under the Clean Air Act to determine whether those emissions pose a danger; and the EPA, which had not asked for this responsibility, did a scrupulous job in finding what most of us certainly suspected, that greenhouse gases do pose such a danger. The clock is running on the regulatory process that follows such an "endangerment" finding, and that ticking clock is now part of the strategy by those pressing for action, including the administration, to break the gridlock in Congress over climate legislation. Few on either side of this debate would choose the EPA route: It's not only inefficient economically, promising future problems for business and consumers; it's also environmentally unreliable, since the EPA under a future conservative administration could gut the regulation.

Yet, the specter of such regulation also should focus attention and energies, especially by those who would be affected most directly, on legislative alternatives. Both big coal and the major environmental organizations, for example, know that the Obama administration can agree to preempt EPA regulation of the climate only if Congress enacts a serious program to control emissions without such regulation. As it happens, this strategy also is likely to open up the debate over climate change. With climate advocates unable to nail down more than 40 to 45 votes to pass a cap-and-trade bill in the Senate, efforts to protect the climate and/or to preempt EPA are likely to turn to alternatives, led by a revenue-neutral carbon tax. If that's the way the strategy develops, the prospect of EPA regulation will open the door to what Al Gore and most economists long ago concluded would be the best approach available to contain the risks of climate change.

By Robert J. Shapiro  |  February 25, 2010; 7:24 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

Any regulations brought forth by the EPA to regulate green house gases under the clean air act will likely be held up in the court system for a couple of years.

The EPA is actually just a bureaucratic arm of the Presidential administration. And as you said.."the EPA under a future conservative administration could gut the regulation."

This gives me great hope since I believe the Theory of Global Warming is based on junk science.

With the November elections right around the corner and the currently strong disapproval poll numbers of the Obama administration, I have great hope for the country.

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | February 27, 2010 8:17 PM
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