I am a recent graduate of William and Mary with a double major in environmental science and policy and public policy. I will be an energy blogger. How can the U.S. reduce its dependence on foreign oil? Is green technology going to happen sooner than we think? What kind of message is needed to sell individuals on the need to stop drill baby drill? These are some of the questions I'd like to ex...
Should the EPA regulate Carbon Dioxide Emissions?
First and foremost, whether EPA should regulate carbon dioxide emissions depends on whether Congress is willing to do so. The failure of the Waxman-Markey climate bill in the Senate suggests that the answer is perhaps not. In particular, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, opened the door to "reconsider a Bush administration decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-burning power plants. The White House signaled that it fully supported Ms. Jackson's approach, deferring to her to discuss the administration's response to the Supreme Court case Massachusetts V. EPA." This Supreme Court case stated the EPA has the right to regulate carbon dioxide emissions so the question of whether the agency has the legal authority to do so is not going to be an issue.
However, despite the most recent failure with Waxman-Markey and the kicking of the issue down the road at least at the congressional level, it appears the Obama administration unlike its predecessor is willing to use the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, which it certainly is. Yet, Congress particularly Representative John D Dingell "said that the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions by the EPA would set off a 'glorious mess' that would resonate throughout the economy.'" In essence, it is pretty clear having the EPA regulate carbon dioxide would not be preferable as they may have a one-size-fits-all approach to carbon dioxide regulations without taking into account individual state needs. In the case of Representative Dingell of Michigan, his state is home to the auto industry and his concern is how such regulations would impact jobs in his state.
Nevertheless, carbon dioxide is a pollutant and Congress had their chance to regulate it with Waxman-Markey or some similar legislation. However, due to Congress' inability to come to a solution on how to regulate carbon dioxide, the issue remains unresolved legislatively even though many acknowledge it is a pollutant that should not go unregulated. The EPA may need to regulate carbon dioxide in the absence of congressional action. Perhaps they can do so by having flexible regulatory rules and structures in place to take into account individual state needs. However, for too long Congress has not been able to act, so may be it is time for the EPA to do so in its absence.
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