Green Business Bureau Blog
The EPA Intercedes
On Monday, December 7th, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a message to Congress. In essence, the EPA message is that the time to enact emissions regulation is now. As expected, Congress did not receive the EPA’s regulatory message quietly.
With the full support of the Obama Administration, the EPA moved to take control of regulating emissions throughout the nation’s economy. The agency declared that six gases present dangers to the environment and to the health of Americans. Carbon Dioxide and methane are the two most dangerous gases specifically addressed by the EPA.
EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, supported the stance, declaring that, “These are reasonable and common-sense steps.” As such, the agency will commence with developing the regulations to reduce the emissions of the six gases. Jackson emphasized that her agency prefers that Congress develop its own plan. As Congress appears entangled in the politics of the actions, the EPA is responsible to protect the environment.
Buoyed by the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the highest court not only empowered the EPA to oversee environmental issues but also mandated the agency to regulate gas emissions and especially carbon dioxide, the EPA has the authority to act without Congressional approval.
Earlier in the year, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska attempted to stall the EPA asking for a one-year period during which the EPA’s funding for emission regulation would be suspended. Murkowski stated the agency’s clamp down on factories and power sources would further hinder the economy and add to the county’s unemployment woes.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is an advocate for the Senate’s climate bill. The Senator interpreted the EPA’s action as necessary to get Congress to engage the emissions problem. The release of the EPA’s plan was coordinated with the beginning of the climate summit in Copenhagen. In April 2007, the Supreme Court deemed carbon dioxide a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Some environmentalists believe the EPA waited too long to launch the new initiative.
Senator Snowe of Maine stated that the EPA’s action will hamper American business. Meanwhile, Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and chairperson of the Senate Agricultural Committee said the EPA should wait for Congress to develop a plan. That development seems conflicted and influenced heavily by powerful lobbyists form powerful industries.
While the EPA is mandated to protect the environment, Congress says there are more cost-effective ways to deal with the volatile topic. Some Congressional leaders suggest legal action to derail the EPA. Thus far, Congress seems more interested in addressing business interests rather than the environmental issues that affect their constituencies.
The Clean Air Act gives the EPA wide regulatory authority. For the time being, the EPA will remain focused on large factories, refineries power plants and other plants that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. While a step in the right direction, more definition and more aggressive regulation are necessary.