More rumblings that EPA may move forward with regulation of greenhouse gases under its existing authority under the Clean Air Act. It appears EPA has started to rattle its saber in an effort to re-energize the cap-and-trade proposal currently in the Senate.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Administrator Lisa Jackson said the "endangerment finding" would be issued in the next few months. Here are a few of her key comments:
"Legislation is so important, because it will combine the most efficient, most economy-wide, least costly (and) least disruptive way to deal with carbon dioxide pollution," Jackson said. "We get further faster without top-down regulation."
But Jackson insisted the EPA would continue on a path that began when the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases qualified as pollutants and could be regulated if the government determined they threatened the public.
"Two years is a long time for this country to wait for us to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling," Jackson said.
An "Endangerment Finding" is a prerequisite to regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court held that the Administrator must determine whether or not emissions of greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare, or whether the science is too uncertain to make a reasoned decision.
On April 17, 2009, the EPA issued its proposed positive "Endangerment Finding" and now the public comment period has closed. This means the EPA could move forward with a final rulemaking at any time.
As Administrator Jackson’s comments make clear, the Obama Administration’s preferred course of action is passage of cap-and-trade legislation- the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES). However, it appears momentum behind the legislation has waned in the Senate.
Some business groups and politicians may see EPA’s comments as only bluffing. That would be a grave mistake. There is no doubt from the comments made by the Obama Administration the Agency will proceed with regulation under the Clean Air Act very soon if the prospects on legislation dim. Key members of the Obama Administration not only believe action must be taken regarding climate change, they also believe the Supreme Court made it legally required.
Furthermore, those who believe EPA regulations pertaining to climate change can simply be overturned, should read the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. The highest court in the land has left little room for a legal determination that climate change is a hoax or not worthy of regulation.