The EPA’s Gun to Our Head

The EPA has issued a proposed announcement that greenhouse gasses “contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare,” and that it has the authority to regulate emissions from new motor vehicles under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.

Aside: Technically this finding could give the EPA authority to regulate human breathing as that process also emits carbon dioxide.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed a proposal regarding GHS and the CAA stating:

The Administrator is proposing to find that the current and projected concentrations of the mix of six key greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methan (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons(PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. This is referred to as the endangerment finding.

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The Administrator is further proposing to find that the combined emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, and HFCs from new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. This is referred to as the cause or contribute finding.

Of course the EPA added meaningless throw away language about how this doesn’t automatically trigger any new industry regulation. However, as the Background portion of the EPA announcement states; this proposal is the outcome of the Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court decision, itself a result of a “petition for rulemaking under section 202(a) filed by more than a dozen environmental, renewable energy, and other organizations.”

You can bet the NRDC, and the renewable barons didn’t waste their cash to not implement new command/control regulations or advance their own rent seeking goals. Just read the EPA’s July 2008 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making and you will see the train wreck for small business buried in the regulatory minutiae

That the endangerment finding will trigger a regulatory cascade threatening the economy is abundantly documented in EPA’s July 2008 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) and numerous comments on it. The endangerment finding will compel EPA to establish GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles under CAA §202, which in turn will make carbon dioxide (CO2) a pollutant “subject to regulation” under the Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permitting program. In addition, the finding will be precedential for the endangerment test that initiates a National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) rulemaking.

No small business could operate under the PSD administrative burden, even apart from any technology investments the firm might have to make to qualify for a permit. An estimated 1.2 million previously unregulated entities (office buildings, big box stores, enclosed malls, hotels, apartment buildings, even commercial kitchens) would become “major stationary sources” for PSD purposes. All would be vulnerable to new regulation, monitoring, paperwork, penalties, and litigation, the moment they undertake to build new facilities or modify existing ones. The flood of PSD permit applications would overwhelm EPA and State agency administrative resources, subjecting “major” sources to additional costs, delays, and uncertainties. A more potent Anti-Stimulus package would be difficult to imagine.

Since EPA plans to find endangerment on both health and welfare grounds, the Agency could be compelled to establish “primary” (health-based) NAAQS for GHGs. Logically, the standard would be set below current atmospheric levels. Even very stringent emission limitations applied worldwide over a century would likely be insufficient to lower GHG concentrations. Yet the CAA requires EPA to ensure attainment of primary NAAQS within five or at most 10 years—and it forbids EPA to take costs into account. Regulate CO2 under the NAAQS program and there is, in principle, no economic hardship that could not be imposed on the American people.

Also take note of the constitutional issue at play here:

To contain the economic fallout from an endangerment finding, EPA, in the ANPR,essentially proposes to rewrite portions of the CAA. EPA,… What this and other (though less blatant) examples in the ANPR reveal is that EPA cannot regulate
CO2under the CAA and avoid a regulatory nightmare unless the Agency plays lawmaker and amends the Act—violating the separation of powers. If, on the other hand, EPA allows the statutory logic of the CAA to unfold, America could easily end up with emission controls far more costly and intrusive than any cap-and-trade proposal Congress has rejected or declined to pass. We could get a Mega-Kyoto system without the people’s elected representatives ever voting on it.

Rather than decry this peril to the economy and the polity, some Obama Administration officials and Members of Congress—and many activists—brandish the endangerment finding as a tool of legislative extortion. Their increasingly audible threat: “Enact the Waxman-Markey bill, or we’ll unleash the CAA on the economy.”

Alarmists will point to the “science” behind the EPA’s technical support document for its finding. However, if you dig into the report, you’ll find that is relies on the same flawed computer models that have failed to line up with actual observed data regarding climate change. Furthermore, the report was written and reviewed by avowed global warming alarmists. For example Gavin Schmidt is listed as “an expert reviewer.” Schmidt is James Hansen’s spokesman at NASA. When he’s not hawking Hansen’s latest rants, Schmidt blogs—on the taxpayer’s dime—at the Soros funded, a project of green PR firm Fenton Communications, Cindy Sheehan’s former spokesman. Fenton is another issue itself, see here and here how their black marketing smear tactics at work.

The report also lists Joel Smith Stratus Consulting as assisting with producing the report. Stratus is part of the great global warming funding scheme. Stratus makes its money off of alarmism. From their website:

We assist clients in the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, impacts, and adaptation. We offer capabilities in modeling of emissions and control options, analysis of vulnerability to climate change, and use of decision analytic techniques to assess adaptation options. We can identify innovative and cost-effective solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ways to adapt to climate change.

Smith is also a proponent of self-insisting theories, i.e., even though observed temperature data showing the there was no statistically significant warming since 1997 didn’t match his flawed modeling and portents of doom, he still insisted that “it is now more likely than not that human activity has contributed to observed increases in heat waves, intense precipitation events, and the intensity of tropical cyclones.” Yeah right.

No matter their clever little tricks, this EPA ruling is the equivalent of environmentalists holding a gun to our heads demanding their economy crushing policies. If they can’t win through the normal democratic process, they will use unelected technocrats and unconstitutional means to get their way.

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