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Lisa Jackson yesterday announced the EPA's finding that carbon emissions threatened the U.S. via global warming and were thus covered under the Clean Air Act. She plans to implement tough new fuel economy restrictions and new restrictions on manufacturing and power businesses.  (Source: The Detroit News)

The findings give ammo to President Obama's plan to crack down on polluting vehicles. Under the plan by 2016 automakers will have to achieve a fleetwide efficiency of 34.1 mpg or face steep fines.  (Source: Dugan Racing)
Is our lifestyle threatening our planet? The EPA thinks so.

Climate change has taken on the trappings of high drama.  Recent leaked climate emails are threatening to discredit much of the work of a significant UK climate center by suggesting manipulation of the peer review process and falsification of data and advocates of warming are pointing to countless other studies worldwide and suggesting that the time for action is now.  In Copenhagen, world climate talks have began.

And it appears one way or another the U.S. is going to get tough on emissions.  President Obama recently promised to cut U.S. emissions by 83 percent by 2050.  Yesterday, the EPA announced that it would be moving to bypass Congress and implement the foundation of such cuts.

Currently a global warming bill that would implement a carbon trading scheme -- the plan to cut emissions endorsed by President Obama -- has passed the House, but is stuck in a deadlocked Senate with the vote drawn largely on partisan lines.  An alternate route has emerged, to push through climate regulations, though.  The foundation of this approach stems from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that global warming was covered by the previously passed Clean Air Act. 

The EPA has been evaluating this claim and yesterday announced that its "endangerment finding" revealed that carbon emissions were indeed a threat to the nation's health and covered under the clean air act.  Describes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, "This long-overdue finding cements 2009's place in history as the year when the United States government began seriously addressing the challenge of greenhouse gas pollution.  [Greenhouse gases] are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly; increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses."

The agency's plans to implement new rules to combat this "threat' are now being aired.

The biggest immediate impact of the decision will be its role in enabling the fuel economy mandates delivered by President Obama.  Under the mandates, large automakers will need to implement fleetwide efficiency of 34.1 mpg by 2016.  That provision is expected to cost the automakers $60B USD.  The plan will essentially push California's emissions targets onto the entire nation.  Advocates say the efficiency upgrade is long overdue.  Critics, though, complain that it will damage an already sick industry.

Similar criticisms exist about the other half of the EPA's action plan -- its plan to regulate greenhouse gases from the power and manufacturing industries.  Some argue that this will result in higher power costs and the movement of manufacturing business overseas to countries like China that do not yet regulate greenhouse emissions.

Jeff Holmstead, EPA air administrator from 2001-05, during the Bush administration, delivered mixed praise for the initiatives.  He states, "[The decision is a] necessary prerequisite for the regulation of greenhouse gases from cars, trucks, businesses, factories, farms, and potentially even apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals.  The hard part is still to come. EPA now has to figure out how it will regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act without undermining the fragile economic recovery."

Robert Meyers, who led the EPA air and radiation office under President George W. Bush, comments that the EPA is approaching the point of no return when it comes to implementing regulation.  He comments, "The main event is to come. EPA indicates that new rules will be issued starting next spring. It will be very difficult to turn back, much less undo all that will be done."

Some businesses and lobbies have threatened to sue the EPA to try to block any new regulations, should they be put into place.



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RE: The shape of the future republic
By docawolff on 12/8/2009 11:24:47 AM , Rating: 1
The EPA is acting on the mandate Congress gave them with the Clean Air Act. You may not be old enough to remember, but forty years ago, "acid rain" was changing the pH of lakes in the Northeast and in some cases sterilizing them. Forests were dying. That is the context under which the Clean Air Act was passed. Since then the EPA has been reducing the emissions of acid gasses (NOx and SOx) as well as keeping industry from creating air so polluted that it can result in lethal smog inversions such as happened in London in the 1950's. You ride a bike, run, swim, walk for your health? Without Congress passing the Clean Air Act, you wouldn't be... at least not without a respirator.

But there is a bigger issue here than the EPA: Greenhouse Gas Policy. We should have been at the forefront of the movement. There is technology to be developed and sold! We wasted eight years when we could have been building and developing the energy systems the world is demanding. I don't actually care whether the the globe is warming from CO2 or not. It is enough for me that the rest of the world believes it. Whining that the science is unproven is like whining that early automobiles weren't alive and had no sense. The argument is immaterial. Here's how you will get rich: Build more nukes! Build Thorium reactors! Build carbon capture and sequestration systems! Build solar panels! Build wind turbines! Build tide and wave power plants! Build geothermal plants! Invent new energy technology! Improve today's technology! Then sell the hell out of it!

The world will change. It may not be fair or right, or even logical, but it will change. The Greenhouse Gas issue is one of those changes. Adapt or die.


RE: The shape of the future republic
By mdogs444 on 12/8/2009 11:29:49 AM , Rating: 5
So what you're basically saying is...

lets pass regulations so that businesses can make all sorts of cool stuff to sell everyone for profit while the average joe has to pay more for everything from fuel, to energy, to food.

Seems to be a bit counter productive to me.

Now what we SHOULD do, is let the rest of the world pass whatever they want regarding CO2 levels, and we pass nothing. Then our costs stay the same...and we'll just sell then a bunch of "feel good technology" for profit.


By BlackIceHorizon on 12/8/2009 1:18:26 PM , Rating: 3
A good plan other than the fact that our costs *are changing*. Gasoline and other petroleum derived substances will continue to increase in price, while non-fossil technologies continue to decrease in price. Certainly some will decry the $60 billion (!) this specific standard is projected to cost the automotive industry (American and foreign alike) over a decade. But we spend ten times that annually funding our military, a good portion of which goes to preferentially securing oil rich areas. Our military investment in the Middle East already outweighs the monetary value of the fossil fuels found there, in strict economic terms. That's not even accounting for the other costs to the U.S. of our foreign energy dependence (political destabilization and radicalization in foreign countries, significant exportation of national wealth through an increased trade deficit, proven health effects of fossil pollutants, etc.). We need to reform our energy systems for myriad reasons, and profit is certainly one of them, in addition to the specter of climate change.

That being said, this regulation-heavy bureaucratic approach strikes me as exactly the wrong way to go about these reforms. If we're going to transition to superior energy solutions (nuclear and wind power, more efficient vehicles and mass transit, etc.) it will happen most efficiently and productively through market-friendly approaches - the antithesis of these new regulations. Hardcore Republicans bristle at the notion, but we need new taxes and less regulation. A gradually scaling gas tax, and a similar strategy with GHGs would do everything we need to promote RD&D of superior technologies through a market incentive without the inefficient and bureaucratic nightmare that will be these GHG regulations. Such taxes can even be revenue neutral by legislative provisions requiring commensurate income tax cuts, for example. We need a reform system that is cheaper to implement and less prone to nepotism and special interest lobbying pressure for specific concessions than our government is ever capable of.

Libertarians like those on this site are right to denounce the institution of the legally-complex nightmares that are our current reform proposals. But such cries will fall on deaf ears without superior alternative solutions. It's time to stop simply griping about how our government is doing it the wrong way and start lobbying with serious policy alternatives.


By Technomage on 12/8/2009 12:58:04 PM , Rating: 3
Funny. Yep, I'm old enough to remember the hype of "acid rain".

Can you possibly make a case for regulating our exhalations as toxic emissions? Sure, halitosis is bad, but this is extreme.

The issue of selling stuff is not in the least way addressed by this ridiculous ruling. There has not been a thing in the world that stopped any company that so wished to create green crap to sell to the world. Nada. We haven't wasted any time, since it's industry that builds things to sell, not government, and they haven't seen the potential for payback on their investment just yet.

Yes, the world will change. It would be nice to have the world progress toward a more logical, intelligent, less lemming-like world, but the hopes for that appear small.

That's my hope for change.


RE: The shape of the future republic
By Spuke on 12/8/2009 1:07:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The world will change. It may not be fair or right, or even logical, but it will change. The Greenhouse Gas issue is one of those changes. Adapt or die.
There is no change here. It's the same ole sh!t in a different wrapper.


RE: The shape of the future republic
By Reclaimer77 on 12/8/2009 1:23:13 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The EPA is acting on the mandate Congress gave them with the Clean Air Act. You may not be old enough to remember, but forty years ago, "acid rain" was changing the pH of lakes in the Northeast and in some cases sterilizing them. Forests were dying. That is the context under which the Clean Air Act was passed. Since then the EPA has been reducing the emissions of acid gasses (NOx and SOx) as well as keeping industry from creating air so polluted that it can result in lethal smog inversions such as happened in London in the 1950's. You ride a bike, run, swim, walk for your health? Without Congress passing the Clean Air Act, you wouldn't be... at least not without a respirator.


There is so much wrong with this paragraph, I could take all day. But the most glaring offense here is your assertion that we would all be wearing respirators without the United STates Clean Air Act. Tell me, did I miss it when we placed a large glass dome over the entire US ? Let me get this straight, even though China, India, and other developing and third world countries have NO pollution standards and are far bigger offender, because the United States passed the Clean Air Act, the world can breath without oxygen tanks ? Or the inverse, how does us having a Clean Air act prevent pollution from other countries from contaminating our air ? Again, I must have missed the day where we covered our country with an air tight glass dome..

In short, you are an idiot.


RE: The shape of the future republic
By docawolff on 12/8/2009 2:34:48 PM , Rating: 2
Wow! I guess the first thing you need to know is that local actions produce local air pollution which is usually BUT NOT ALWAYS dispersed globally. Did you happen to notice all the furor at the last summer Olympic games over air quality? The organizers were worried that China's air pollution was so bad that it would harm the athletes. In fact, some athletes boycotted the games because of China's air pollution.

The killing smog in London that I referred to (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Smog_of_1952) killed between 4,000 and 12,000 from air pollution. Note that the rest of the world did not experience a similar pollution event. You don't need a glass dome, just a good air inversion, and you will be re-breathing ozone, VOCs, SOx, and NOx that was SUPPOSED to be dispersed to the wide world days ago. So yes, I AM saying that because the US passed the Clean Air Act, you, assuming you live in the US, can breath without a respirator every day of the year--not just on the windy ones.

Oh, and a respirator does not necessarily mean oxygen tanks. A good combined chemical and particle filter will take out particulates and acid gasses just fine.

So let me ask this, just out of curiosity: did you intentionally distort what I was saying, or did you truly not understand it?


RE: The shape of the future republic
By Spuke on 12/8/2009 2:56:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Wow! I guess the first thing you need to know is that local actions produce local air pollution which is usually BUT NOT ALWAYS dispersed globally.
So we just have a dome over the country. Ok, I can dig that.


By docawolff on 12/8/2009 3:11:07 PM , Rating: 2
Gah!!!! *Pulls remaining hair out and sobs*


RE: The shape of the future republic
By Reclaimer77 on 12/8/2009 3:46:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So yes, I AM saying that because the US passed the Clean Air Act, you, assuming you live in the US, can breath without a respirator every day of the year--not just on the windy ones.


You and your "acid rain" and resperator comments are a bunch of alarmist leftist environmental wacko bullshit. And you know it. The air never has, and never could be, that polluted. And something that happened in London over 50 years ago doesn't mean it was going to happen here. We aren't stupid enough to stack 28, yes TWENTY EIGHT, coal burning power plants in a small area. Combined with all the fireplaces that were used at the time to heat homes.

Oh and I thought it was called "global warming", not "local warming". If the United States is responsible for turning the entire planet into a desert supposedly, than how are air pollutants any different ? Again, we don't live under a dome.

You are either giving us too much credit, or too much blame. I will concede that there was a point in time where the EPA honestly worked for the betterment of the Country, but now we can plainly see the EPA is a pollitical arm of the Liberal party and is backing their socialist agenda. If anyone believes the timing of this announcement by the EPA is cooincidence, they are idiots and saps.


RE: The shape of the future republic
By juserbogus on 12/8/2009 4:19:21 PM , Rating: 2
you obviously don't know what the hell you are talking about or you are out right lying! air in certain parts of the US have been that polluted in our history. a simple search is enough is enough to find out why Congress passed the act in the first place.


RE: The shape of the future republic
By Reclaimer77 on 12/8/2009 6:14:45 PM , Rating: 4
I never said we haven't polluted. But he's going from that, to saying " we would all be wearing gas masks ". Which is speculation at best, and more likely completely unfounded fear mongering.

But using the Clean Air act to classify Co2, something we ALL exhale, as a toxin is purely political and idiotic. And you know it.


By juserbogus on 12/10/2009 9:19:43 AM , Rating: 2
ok, I apologize then.

quote:
But using the Clean Air act to classify Co2, something we ALL exhale, as a toxin is purely political and idiotic. And you know it.
weren't they told to do just that buy the supreme court in '07


RE: The shape of the future republic
By BZDTemp on 12/8/2009 5:41:42 PM , Rating: 1
If the United States is responsible for turning the entire planet into a desert supposedly, than how are air pollutants any different ?

CO2 is a gas and there is such a thing as particles which does not travel into the atmosphere but stays more locally. CO2 acts as a green house gas. Do you need the term "Green house glass" explained?

Also the US is not solely responsible - of course not. However the US stands for something like 20% of the problem while only being like 5% of the worlds population. Guess who will have a relative easy time making changes that will have an impact. Yes - you guessed it. The US. It's like if you are in a classroom and there is to much noise - where best to start getting silence, the kid being loud or all the other kids whispering.


RE: The shape of the future republic
By Reclaimer77 on 12/8/2009 6:18:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
CO2 is a gas and there is such a thing as particles which does not travel into the atmosphere but stays more locally. CO2 acts as a green house gas. Do you need the term "Green house glass" explained?


Have you been living under a rock for the past month ? The "greenhouse effect" was a lie, a fraud. Put forth by liars and biased men with agendas that we (people like you) trusted because they were scientists.

Co2 levels are rising, but global temps have been cooling for 5 years now. Get a clue. The only data that supports global warming is data that was TAINTED or made up !


RE: The shape of the future republic
By lco45 on 12/8/09, Rating: 0
By BZDTemp on 12/9/2009 7:16:11 AM , Rating: 1
Honestly - you're the one living under a rock. Just because a couple of scientist have been simplifying data to take out exceptions from a trend it does not mean there is any lie or fraud. There are thousands of scientist demonstrating what it is all about and if you do not believe science then please explain what is going on.

Where I live we just had the hottest November ever measures. The last decade was the hottest ever and this one in on track to beat that record. In CAL the forrest fires get worse year for year due to lack of rain, the ice caps are melting and so on. You're the one which need to get a clue.

I understand how it is very convenient to think it was all a fraud but please do a little research.


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