Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, speaking at the National Press Club Monday criticized citizens who disagree with the power grab(s) being undertaken by the agency to regulate greenhouse gases. Jackson sends an army of straw-men arguments marching into a very important debate about science, our economy, and the authority of an executive branch agency to set policy.
As you might expect, we’re running into the same old tired arguments.
Once again industry and lobbyists are trying to convince us that changes will be absolutely impossible. Once again alarmists are claiming this will be the death knell of our economy. Once again they are telling us we have to choose: Economy? Or environment?
Most drastically, we are seeing efforts to further delay EPA action to reduce greenhouse gases.
This is happening despite the overwhelming science on the dangers of climate change…despite the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision that EPA must use the Clean Air Act to reduce the proven threat of greenhouse gases…and despite the fact that leaving this problem for our children to solve is an act of breathtaking negligence.
Yeah, breathtaking. We get it.
Let’s take a look at Jackson’s claims.
1. “Once again industry and lobbyists are trying to convince us that changes will be absolutely impossible.” Really? Who’s arguing that? Here is a paragraph from the National Association of Manufacturers’ policy on climate change:
The NAM understands the fundamental importance of protecting the environment. Our member companies are committed to greater environmental sustainability, including energy efficiency and conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with global climate change. We know we cannot solve the climate change issue alone. The U.S. Congress must engage in a thorough and transparent deliberative process for establishing federal climate change policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining a competitive level playing field for U.S. companies in the global marketplace.
The policy then lists a set of principles for federal action on climate, stating that policies must be equitable and economywide in scope, include all sectors and recognize the different competitive environments and abilities of sectors. The EPA does not have the authority to accomplish this balancing under the Clean Air Act.
2. “Once again alarmists are claiming this will be the death knell of our economy. Once again they are telling us we have to choose: Economy? Or environment?” Ah, alarmists. Because with unemployment near 10 percent amid inconsistent signs of a recovery, and the United States competing in a global economy, anyone who expresses concerns about a vast new regulatory regime imposing new costs on the energy sector, manufacturers, and transportation is an “alarmist.” Here is a link to a study conducted for the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation on the effects of the Waxman-Markey legislation, including a loss of $2 trillion to $3 trillion in economic growth and two million jobs over the 18 years of the bill.
3. “Most drastically, we are seeing efforts to further delay EPA action to reduce greenhouse gases.” Thank goodness for these “most drastic” efforts, also known as legislation. You see, it’s not only industry and lobbyists and citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights in calling for a delay in the EPA’s unprecedented power grab. It’s Senators, like Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). And Representatives like Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO).
4. “This is happening despite the overwhelming science on the dangers of climate change.” That’s a point of some contention, isn’t it? We see scandal after scandal undermining the credibility of the most prominent scientific polemicists on climate change. (From Iain Murray at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Climategate: This Time It’s NASA,” and “The Real Climate Confusion.”)
5. “despite the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision that EPA must use the Clean Air Act to reduce the proven threat of greenhouse gases…” Advocates often simplify the court’s decision in Massachusett v. EPA as ordering the agency to regulate greenhouse gases. It’s not that direct. The court ruled that the EPA did have the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases and is required by the Act to base the decision on a consideration of “whether greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change.” In any case, that’s a statutory authority that Congress, as the policymaking branch of government, can remove or modify as it wishes.
6. “and despite the fact that leaving this problem for our children to solve is an act of breathtaking negligence.” Unlike, say, the federal debt? In any case, Administrator Jackson is using the tired political tactic of invoking “the children,” in this case on behalf of a false choice. Opposing the Obama EPA’s power grab, arguing against the agency’s attempt remake and burden the U.S. economy over the wishes of the public and policymakers does not mean “leaving this problem for our children to solve.” It means accurately identifying the problem, relying on our elected policymakers to address the issue through the political process, avoiding Pyrrhic victories that burn down our economy, and using the best of technological advances to improve efficiency and energy conservation.
What’s breathtaking about that?