News from the Columbia Climate School

Watch out GHGs: the Clean Air Act is coming to get you!

It took two years and a new administration, but the EPA is finally going to formally consider regulating carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. In the 2007 case Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court held that the Clean Air Act (CAA) was capable of regulating CO2 and ordered the EPA to give good reasons if it decided not to regulate the greenhouse gas.

But – guess what – the Bush EPA stalled, although it released a voluminous Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, in which many mid-level EPA employees explained why the CAA should be used to regulate CO2, and Bush political appointees explained why CAA regulation would prove disastrous. Then came December’s infamous Johnson memo, in which outgoing EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said that EPA hearing boards need not consider greenhouse gas emissions when deciding whether to permit construction of new power plants.

Barack Obama hasn’t been in the White House even a month, and his approach to climate catastrophe has already been a sea change (pun intended) from his predecessor’s. A week after taking office, Obama announced that he would order the reconsideration of the Bush EPA’s denial of a waiver to California, a waiver that would have allowed California, pursuant to CAA Sec. 202, to set vehicle emissions standards stricter than the federal ones. Now the new EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, has asked her people to prepare materials for a so-called endangerment finding, which would be the first step toward deployment of the CAA’s various tools in the fight against climate change.

Right now there are two safe bets: (1) the endangerment finding will be made and (2) the CAA will not be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a comprehensive way.

Huh?

I (along with many others) believe that the endangerment finding is a way to prod Congress into passing (and industry into supporting) comprehensive climate change regulation. The last thing industry wants to see is CAA regulation, which is mostly of the command-and-control variety. (It is especially amusing to read the Wall Street Journal’s apoplectic editorials on the prospect of CAA regulation – I can’t wait to see tomorrow’s!).

So the CAA boogie man is being deployed to drum up support for cap-and-trade, a market-friendly solution, which Obama is already on record as supporting. The big unknown, of course, is the extent to which the economy will sap the will for confronting a climate crisis, that, frankly, isn’t as scrary right now as double-digit unemployment and bank nationalization. That Obama ordered the EPA endangerment finding at all in this political and economic climate an act of courage.

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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14 years ago

[…] Watch out GHGs: the Clean Air Act is coming to get you! […]

trackback
14 years ago

[…] first step for the agency to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act.  Commentators, including myself, have doubted that the endangerment finding will lead to comprehensive regulation of CO2 under the […]

Hypnosis Training
14 years ago

Obama announced that he would order the reconsideration of the Bush EPA’s denial of a waiver to California, a waiver that would have allowed California, pursuant to CAA Sec. 202, to set vehicle emissions standards stricter than the federal ones.

Do we really think he will start this? I do not think he can as he has too many things going on right now to worry about this in cal.

club penguin cheats
14 years ago

The last thing industry wants to see is CAA regulation, which is mostly of the command-and-control variety. (It is especially amusing to read the Wall Street Journal’s apoplectic editorials on the prospect of CAA regulation.

Art
Art
14 years ago

i will support the act if it is released. That’s good to give more rules to businesses and individuals. WE need collective actions for this urgent change.

free microsoft points
13 years ago

Obama announced he was ordering the review of the refusal of the Bush EPA waiver to California a waiver that would have allowed California, in accordance with the CAA, Sec. 202, to set vehicle emissions standards stricter than federal.

Joseph Conrad
13 years ago

Given the current political climate, the CAA boogie man may be our only hope of GHG regulation.

And, yes, states should have the right to set stricter emission standards…but then I’m a greenie.

Justin East
13 years ago

Let’s hope that Obama can put some teeth into the CAA because his efforts at creating climate change legislation don’t seem to be gaining much traction.

Kids Virtual Worlds
13 years ago

Art, I disagree. Urgent change? Why must everything be so urgent. We need to actually see if all this is a reality. Obama has been in too big of a hurry doing to much too fast. I

Club Penguin
13 years ago

The last thing industry wants to see is CAA regulation, which is mostly of the command-and-control variety. (It is especially amusing to read the Wall Street Journal’s apoplectic editorials on the prospect of CAA regulation.

payday loans canada
13 years ago

Air pollution often travels from its source in one state to another state. In many metropolitan areas, people live in one state and work or shop in another; air pollution from cars and trucks may spread throughout the interstate area. The 1990 Clean Air Act provides for interstate commissions on air pollution control, which are to develop regional strategies for cleaning up air pollution.

Club Penguin Cheats
13 years ago

I’m glad to hear it. I think the EPA should be stepping up to the plate with more enforcement.

key711
13 years ago

Obama will be able to pull it through. Though there is much more to be done.

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