“A reactionary is a somnambulist walking backwards.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
With little hope for federal climate action, it is essential that we preserve and move forward on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, climate change pollutants.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has had the authority since 1970 to set limits on air pollutants that threaten the health and welfare of the American people, such as particle pollution, carbon monoxide and lead. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that climate change pollutants are also covered by the Clean Air Act. Late in December 2009, after a thorough examination of the scientific evidence, the EPA determined that climate change pollution fits into this category and began setting objectives for regulating these pollutants. Unfortunately, some members of Congress, with the backing of the coal, oil, and electric utility industries, are attempting to block the EPA from setting standards to reduce these emissions.
Most recently, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, to prevent the EPA from reducing climate change pollution. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Sen. Inholfe (R-Okla) introduced the legislation that would amend the Clean Air Act to forbid consideration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It is important to note that for Congress to intervene in scientific determinations regarding public health is unprecedented. Furthermore, in support of this bill, Republicans have used the argument that Congress needs to determine how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, not the Executive branch. However, they are missing the point that Congress did do this when it passed the Clean Air Act and our own Supreme Court affirmed it in 2007! EPA is required by law to regulate carbon dioxide emissions because it is proven to pose a threat to human health.
It’s especially important now that members of the U.S. Senate vote against any measure that would weaken or delay EPA authority to regulate global warming emissions. The Will Steger Foundation joined over 20 conservation and environmental organizations on a letter sent to Senator Klobuchar to express our serious concern with any action to delay the EPA’s greenhouse gas rulemaking process. EPA’s authority to act in this area is key to moving forward in addressing climate change. President Obama has promised to veto any measure to limit the EPA authority.
Meanwhile on January 2nd the tailoring rule went into effect and was a great first step. Now we are working towards the second step, permitting of existing sources. As a member of RE-AMP, we will submit comments to the EPA to emphasize the importance of moving forward with this rulemaking and enact rules that result in meaningful greenhouse gas reduction from power plants and refineries.
You can also take action! Visit the U.S. Climate Action Network for resources for action to defend the Clean Air Act.