Senator Lisa Murkowski has proposed a Resolution of Disapproval that would veto the legal force and effect of EPA’s determination that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare. The Resolution would not veto or overturn the scientific reasoning or conclusions reached by the EPA, though they are subject to question. Rather, as I said, it would veto the endangerment finding’s “legal force and effect.”
By doing so, the Resolution would avert a train wreck. For the legal effect of the EPA’s endangerment finding would be an absurdly oppressive regulatory regime. As the energy blog MasterResource explains:
EPA and its state counterparts would have to apply the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) preconstruction permitting program to an estimated 41,000 previously unregulated small entities each year, and the Act’s Title V operating permits program to an estimated 6.1 million previously unregulated small entities. These administratively impossible undertakings would induce regulatory paralysis, bring construction activity to a screeching halt, and force millions of firms to operate in legal limbo — all in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
EPA acknowledges the problem but, protective of its turf, claims that it can “tailor” the PSD and Title V programs so that they apply only to large industrial facilities emitting 25,000 (or maybe even 100,000) tons per year of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases. But the Clean Air Act plainly states that a source is subject to PSD if it has a potential to emit 250 tons per year of a regulated air pollutant and Title V if it has a potential to emit 100 tons per year. EPA can evade this result only by refusing to follow the law. And if it refuses to follow the law, it will be sued successfully by environmentalists.
Moreover, EPA’s approach, even if successful, would only avoid the regulatory cascade for six years. After that, EPA plans to extend PSD and Title V requirements to smaller and smaller entities. As MasterResource puts it, “absurd results are to be delayed rather than avoided.”
The endangerment finding also triggers an obligation to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards. And because EPA attributes the endangerment to the “elevated concentration” of greenhouses in the atmosphere, it has already made the case for establishing these Standards below current atmospheric levels. States would have to meet these Standards within ten years. MasterResource warns that the endangerment finding “sets the stage for eco-litigation groups to transform the Clean Air Act into a deindustrialization mandate — an economic suicide pact.”
The Murkowski Resolution, which would nip all of this mischief in the bud, has bipartisan support. Three Democratic Senators — Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, and Blanche Lincoln of Arksansas — are co-sponsors. As such, it may succeed in the Senate. The House would seem to be another matter.
JOHN adds: The Democrats are crazy to push the carbon-suppression agenda. Once voters figure out what is going on, it will be massively unpopular–more so than their attempted takeover of health care. The Dems’ health care initiative will reasonably be supported by some who think (rightly or wrongly) that it represents money in their pocket. (“If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul”–the guiding philosophy of the Democratic Party.) But the anti-carbon jihad impoverishes everyone. There is not a single voter, other than those who are engaged in some kind of “green” scam, who stands to benefit from a deliberate suppression of economic growth.