Fully two years ago, in Mass. v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Bush administration’s EPA to determine whether vehicular carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health and welfare under the Clean Air Act.
The Bush administration essentially ignored this direct order.
Now, FT reports that the Obama EPA is on the verge of doing the opposite–which is an extremely big deal. The EPA already submitted its endangerment finding to the Office of Management and Budget; the next step, as I understand it, would be full administration approval.
Basically, if the EPA starts moving towards global warming regulations, then Congress had better put its weight on the scales quick, or else “unelected bureaucrats” (to anticipate the negative spin) will be determining how we deal with carbon dioxide emissions, a decision with dramatic implications for the economy and the future.
Everybody agrees that it’s better for Congress to pass a new law on global warming than to have regulations go through the administrative process at EPA. And yet if Congress fails to lead–and so far, it’s hard to tell whether there will really be 60 Senate votes–then there’s every reason to expect the Obama EPA will just keep on moving, doing what the Supreme Court said to do.
Members of Congress who oppose global warming legislation this year really ought to keep that in mind. The reality is that global warming regulation is going to happen, one way or another. Any responsible leader in this context would try to get us the best, democratically enacted policy–not to block progress.