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.
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
The EPA has been evaluating this claim and
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.
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."
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.
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.