Endangerment of the Rule of Law, Too

Wall Street Journal editorial, “Terms of ‘Endangerment’,” with the sub-headline, “The EPA’s anti-carbon rule is an admission that CO2 limits hurt the economy.”

Cap and trade may be flopping around like a dying fish in Congress, but the Obama Administration isn’t about to let the annoyance of democratic consent interfere with its climate ambitions. Almost as bad is the new evidence that it understands how damaging its carbon regulations and taxes will be and is pressing ahead anyway.

The White House is currently reviewing the Environmental Protection Agency’s April “endangerment finding” that as a matter of law CO2 is a pollutant that threatens the public’s health and must therefore be subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. Such a rulemaking would let the EPA impose the ossified command-and-control regulatory approach of the 1970s across the entire economy, even if Democrats never get around to passing a cap-and-tax bill.

Yet a curious twist is buried in the EPA’s draft rule. The trade press is reporting that the agency thinks it enjoys the discretion to target the new rules only to major industrial sources of carbon emissions, such as power plants, refineries, factories and the like. This so-called “tailoring rule” essentially rewrites clear statutory language of the Clean Air Act by bureaucratic decree.

On Monday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters that a formal endangerment finding would probably “happen in the next months.” The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

“Legislation is so important, because it will combine the most efficient, most economy-wide, least costly (and) least disruptive way to deal with carbon dioxide pollution,” Jackson said. “We get further faster without top-down regulation.”

But Jackson insisted the EPA would continue on a path that began when the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases qualified as pollutants and could be regulated if the government determined they threatened the public.

“Two years is a long time for this country to wait for us to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Jackson said.

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