Environmentalists are backpedaling in their long march toward deindustrialization. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has offered to delay some of its plans to regulate so-called greenhouse gases. Republicans in Congress shouldn’t hesitate to press their advantage.
@-Text.normal:The agency’s advance faltered last week with the announcement that it was willing to put off for three years new rules requiring biomass-fired boilers to obtain permits to emit carbon dioxide. This provides temporary financial relief to power plants that burn forest and agricultural products, wastewater treatment facilities, landfills and highly subsidized ethanol operations. Other restrictions announced Jan. 2 on coal-fired plants and oil refineries remain in place.
When EPA clean-air regulations become fully operative, they will send shock waves through the American economy. The agency’s claim of long-term benefits totaling $1.3 trillion is inflated, according to a report released March 17 by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The purported financial gain is overstated due to “accounting tricks and gimmicks” and doesn’t consider capital expenditures factories will pay to comply with the rules.
The EPA’s partial capitulation is a reaction to a long-overdue congressional move to re-establish authority over an agency gone rogue. By Easter recess, the House is expected to take up legislation stripping the EPA of its authority to impose emissions regulations on carbon-dioxide-based power facilities. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, is pushing a similar measure in the Senate. The bill is likely to gain majority support but not the 67 votes needed to override President Obama’s expected veto. With the economy in the dumps, a presidential veto will haunt Mr. Obama as he seeks reelection in 2012 with a record of thwarting every congressional effort to resuscitate commerce.
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide - the harmless gas essential to all life on this planet - is somehow a “pollutant” and the EPA is within its authority to regulate it under the Clean Air Act. The decision swept away any vestige of restraint on the agency and resulted in a cascade of global-warming fear-mongering that has ginned up anti- industrial regulations that are crippling America’s ability to power civilization.
With a little help from eco-crazy allies, the O Force has succeeded in hampering every source of conventional energy. It imposed an oil-drilling moratorium in the Gulf, hamstrung coal mining and coal-burning plants in the heartland and blocked uranium mining in the West. Now Japan’s tsunami-triggered nuclear crisis is reinvigorating domestic nuclear opponents. Anyone who believes an advanced country the size of the United States can run on solar and wind power is delusional.
The EPA has flinched, so it’s time for congressional Republicans to take the offensive. Over time, the effort could result in a more moderate energy policy that protects not only the environment, but also gives a little breathing room to America’s most precious carbon-dioxide emitters - human beings.