The EPA's Power Grab

From the Weekly Standard

The climate campaigners play their trump card, but it may turn out to be a joker.

jokercard1By Steven F. Hayward — The climate campaign, built step-by-step over the last 20 years, has reached its Waterloo. The Copenhagen conference that ended Friday was an exercise in political theater. It not only failed to produce a binding agreement, but the potential emissions curbs it endorsed fall far below what climate orthodoxy demands, while the proposed wealth transfer from rich nations to poor nations is a political nonstarter. Back home, cap and trade legislation remains on life support, even though it has been significantly watered down so as to postpone real costs to consumers for a decade or more. In the midst of this gloom, the climate campaign has played its trump card in the United States: The Environmental Protection Agency formally announced on December 7 its intention to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act.

That trump card, however, may turn out to be a joker.

The Clean Air Act (CAA), enacted in 1970 and last updated in 1990, is an abysmal policy mechanism for controlling greenhouse gases, and was never intended for this kind of problem. But the EPA’s gambit is not about policy–it is all about politics. The EPA’s grasp for dominion over greenhouse gases has been a long time in coming, starting as an effort to bring pressure on the Bush administration to relent in its opposition to a U.N.-led international climate treaty, and continuing under Obama as a means of pressuring Congress and the business community to support cap and trade.

The key antecedent to this gambit was a botched Supreme Court decision in 2007, Massachusetts v. EPA, in which a 5-4 majority (Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with the Court’s four liberals) ruled that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide were indeed “pollutants” under the capacious definitions of the Clean Air Act, thereby giving the EPA jurisdiction to regulate them without any legislative mandate from Congress.

Environmental groups had petitioned the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and had encouraged several states to ask for federal authority to impose their own regulations on automobile emissions. The Bush EPA took the position that it did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and would decline to regulate them even if it did have the legal authority. Once the Supreme Court ruled, however, the slippery slope logic of environmental law took over, making it inevitable that the EPA would eventually move to regulate greenhouse gases. In a nutshell, environmental statutes and case law have evolved so as to make federal judges into the sock puppets of environmentalists, and greens have become highly skilled in bringing lawsuits to compel federal agencies to do their bidding. (This explains, for example, the Bush administration’s decision to list the polar bear as an endangered species.)

The EPA gambit has business groups in an uproar, but is this a case of crying wolf, in a mirror image of environmental alarms? Industry protested every version of the Clean Air Act (a Ford executive named Lee Iacocca predicted in 1970 that the CAA would shut down the entire American auto industry), and although the cost of reducing air pollution was not trivial (over $500 billion according to the EPA’s likely underestimate), it has not decimated the American economy. In fact, on the surface the Clean Air Act appears to be the largest public policy success story of the last generation: The dramatic reduction in air pollution is greater in magnitude than the reduction in the crime rate in the 1990s or the fall in welfare rolls since welfare reform. You’d never know this from the media or the greens, who hate good environmental news as much as vampires hate garlic.

Read the rest of the column.

26 Responses to The EPA's Power Grab

  1. Rob N. Hood December 22, 2009 at 9:07 am #

    No worries guys (and gals) !!! The next Republican President will veto this, or whatever he/she has to do to kill it. You people worry too much. You are a minotiry but your powerful as heck. You got Fox “news” etc. yelling non-stop for ya. Even the MSM is mostly corporate, most of the time (like 95%, I’d say). Sit back and enjoy your successes. You even have been able to help doom (possibly) much of the planet and its people to harsh future conditions. Don’t take it too hard however, it may have all happened regardless of your misguided interference.

  2. paul wenum December 22, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Have a misguided “Merry Christmas.”

  3. Rob N. Hood December 25, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead. — Thomas Paine, US patriot & political philosopher (1737 – 1809)

  4. paul wenum December 26, 2009 at 12:34 am #

    Then you must be “Dead.”

  5. Rob N. Hood December 30, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    Living in an elitist and decadent society (for the wealthy) that sucks the life and energy out of it’s middle class does make one feel like an object to be used and thrown away (dead), or at least dying. So yes in a way I do feel dead/dying.

  6. Paul Wenum December 30, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    Renew yourself. I’m not an “Elitist,” nor am I “decadent”. I just cut coupons just like you I assume, and state what I believe. That, by the way is the American Way! By the way, for years I have caught heck for saying to my family. “All of us are one more day closer to death, use your time wisely before you are gone.” Which is a factual statement. Boy do that hate that statement! The bottom line is live your life to the fullest before “the big guy in the sky” says it is time to go home. Think about it Rob.

  7. Hal Groar December 31, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    So Rob, your saying that we are destine for “harsh” conditions? Is the harsh conditions the 3 degree Celsius raise in temps? Tell me, what kills more people cold weather or hot weather? Rob, is there solid evidence that the earth will whip up larger hurricanes or more violent weather in these harsh conditions? Tell me Rob, are the harsh conditions of the last decade part of your world? Rob tell me why I should listen to you at all when your arbitrary arguments are not backed by science and you call people names when they disagree. Rob who is feeding you full of this garbage? I have a feeling I know. Rob I think you would do well to read up a little and accept the real world and the truth. Feel free to call me an elitist or whatever else your mentor can come up with, I expect it and look forward to it. As do the rest of the readers here….don’t disappoint Rob!

  8. paul wenum January 1, 2010 at 3:56 am #

    Thank you Hal, couldn’t have responded better than you just did. Just wait for the response to follow. I trust that it will take awhile as he awaits his mentors directions.

  9. Rob N. Hood January 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    I am not alone in the name-calling dept. Singling me out for that is very silly, and off topic in its way. Your comment lists some things that EXPERTS and SCIENTISTS have predicted, not me. Does that make me or them “arbitrary?” Really? I don’t know where you got your logic and reasoning from but I would check it before I make any more comments like that. For example, did I call YOU, or even Paul, an elitist? No I did not. I was referring to those who are. Are you then either consciously or unconsciously identifying yourself as one?? Not to let myself off the hook in any way, I have to then ask you this- are you wealthy? If so (in a certain obscene amount which I would have a difficult time assignign an actual number to (money, stocks, etc.) Thus, if you meet that “standard” then yes I would include in you in the category of the elite, but if not then I would not. Why are we having this particular discussion? Only you can shed light on that I guess. And I’m sorry I don’t have a “mentor.” I wonder why you think that?

  10. Paul Wenum January 2, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    I, as well as Hal, are individuals that work hard like you for a living. Is there a “benchmark” for an “Elitist?” I have no understanding as to how much is “To much money” do you??? If you are making $40,000.00 a year and a company came to you and offered you $400,000.00 would you turn it down, and if not, would you give the rest away because you “made too much?” “Wealthy” to me is being able to take care of my family, able to pay bills and enjoy life earning that honor by working hard. If that is an “Elitist” I quess I am one.

  11. Rob N. Hood January 3, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    That is ridiculous, and just argumentative. Why do you persist in such dialogue? It is useless. It is even worse than that, but I refuse to give it more thought. I just have to remind myself you are but one person, and even if the ever loyal Neil (or anyone) chimes in to support such a useless statement it won’t change the fact that you demonstrate more “Alinsky” type tactics than anyone here. Why do bother? Why do I? You and Hal talk about the “real world” and yet you dodge and weave and refuse to fully discuss things. That’s fine, but don’t sit there and condescend to me by disgorging such pathetic non-responses and insults.

    I work two jobs to support my family, and have done so for three years, my wife now has two jobs as well (the tail end of the terrible Bush years- gee a coincidence?). Prior to that I have worked since I was 15; all of it full-time following college (worked part-time thru that). And so my honest response to you, and Hal, from me is very full of vitriol and expletives. But I will spare Dan the trouble of deleting it all.

  12. paul wenum January 3, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    Rob, I’m proud to hear what you just stated. You are going through what my father went through as well as my Mother. (My wife and I included). By the way, that was pre-Bush and it is called “life.” Work hard, feed your family and the “good times” will follow. What are good times? Not being quote unquote “Rich” in monetary terms, Rich in family, simple comforts and enjoying life at it’s fullest knowing that YOU worked hard for it, and it was not GIVEN to you FREE from someone else’s pocket. That’s not argumentative that is a simple fact of life. I see that you are dealing with it in the normal way of life. Finally, “real world” is what I just stated. Keep working hard and it will come. Always does, always will.

  13. Rob N. Hood January 4, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    Go to hell.

  14. Paul Wenum January 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    I hate compliments.

  15. Rob N. Hood January 5, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    You are pompous and patronizing to the extreme. Extreme in many ways it seems.

  16. paul wenum January 5, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    I’m not pompous nor extreme, I’ve been there my friend. Life is choices. Never forget that.

  17. Rob N. Hood January 7, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    I am almost 50 years old. So YES, that makes you a pompous SOB. And even if I was younger, nobody with kids should have to work two jobs. Who’s raising our kids today? Nobody, that’s who. And why? Not because there are so many bad parents, but because they are WORKING, any and all hours there can get their hands on, just To pay the bills. So yes, you are extreme, and heartless, and …. rigid and arrogant, and … PART OF THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION.

    • Dan McGrath January 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

      Now that is disturbing.

  18. Hal Groar January 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Rob I am not rich. I do pretty good and I make no apology’s. The point of my post was simple, you said expect harsh conditions in the future…are these the same one’s predicted 20 years ago for our current climate? (That were never realized?) Or are they the conditions that are predicted every year that fail to be realized…for example more and more hurricanes that will grow in violence and strength every year. I think it has been the last 5 years they have predicted worse hurricanes and the opposite has happened. In other words, these predictions are rubbish and only designed to scare people. So I pay no attention.

    • Rob N. Hood January 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

      Not exactly- eventually everything will get scarce including water. You people just don’t get it… finite resources and geometrically expanding populations. The Oil wars we are currently flooding with our tax dollars and younsters blood is just the beginning… Wake up.

  19. paul wenum January 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    Keeping personal lives aside let’s keep to the issue at hand. Climate change is “natural.” Unfortunately, in Minnesota as well as other States, it is “Unnatural” over the last two months, or so. I guess “Newsweek” in July 1975 was right, we are in a “Global cooling period.” Rob. Suggestion, take a breath, relax and play with your wonderful children that you love and adore. When I was younger, your age, my children brought me back to reality in what is really meaningful in life. You sound stressed out my friend and working two jobs as well as your wife, is not easy and I compliment you for your dedication to your family. Take care and get that chip off your shoulder.

    • Rob N. Hood January 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

      You are missing the point. With or without climate change things will get harsher. And currently at least our hardships and sacrifices are NOT necessary but occur on purpose by the elite. They thrive off us, parasitically, and we continue to struggle even when there is plenty to go around… What will happen when the real shortages occur….??? Wake up.

  20. Flu-Bird January 8, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    If theres one goverment agency that needs to be totaly eliminated its the EPA its become just another buracracy and therefore needs to be abolished

  21. paul wenum January 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    Not abolished. Take the politics away and not have elected officials appoint the “Leader of the Agency.” In the real world, they would never be there being unqualified for the position. Very simple. Of course, it is never simple logic when it comes to government. Reminds me of a bad rash. The more you scratch it to get relief the bigger it becomes. Never changes.

  22. Rob N. Hood January 10, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    The EPA will some day be the last thing you will be worried about. Wake up to current reality AND then we can do something for the better. But not until then unfortunately. We are waiting for you, but time is running out. I am reaching the point of realizing another harsh reality. People on the Right think much differently, and I am discovering that nothing short of extreme conditions will shake that up. And also that many of you will very quickly join the ranks of whatever powerful entity rises to the top. It’s natural that you do so, even if you don’t believe that. For example those people and things that you think are your “enemy” may in reality be your best ally, and those that you current believe are deserving of your admiration and loyalty may be your oppressors. Could you make this change in paradigms? Some will, some won’t. Germany in the 30’s is a very good analogy. Think about it, but not superficially, but seriously, over time and often. Who and what has the real power today? What are they doing with it? What is happending with their power, not just here, but around the globe? (And, it is mostly us that give them this power). Will you continue to do so? What will it take for you to try and get some personal power and control back? And finally- what side will you be on? And why?

  23. paul wenum January 13, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    I see you are thinking my friend and that you finally do not have the all the answers. Nor do I, nor will you. Life is what you choose, friend, foe. Choose wisely is all I can say.

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