Tag: Clean Air Act

The New EPA

Updated Below

Holy firking schnit:

The Environmental Protection Agency has said new greenhouse gas regulations, as proposed, may be “absurd” in application and “impossible to administer” by its self-imposed 2016 deadline. But the agency is still asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats — at a cost of $21 billion — to attempt to implement the rules.

The proposed regulations would set greenhouse gas emission thresholds above which businesses must file for an EPA permit and complete extra paperwork in order to continue operating. If the EPA wins its court battle and fully rolls out the greenhouse gas regulations, the number of businesses forced into this regulatory regime would grow tremendously — from approximately 14,000 now to as many as 6.1 million.

That’s just the EPA’s cost. Estimated. You can imagine the compliance costs this will impose on industry. The upside is that it will at least create some jobs.

Just a reminder of the background — the EPA is trying to use the Clean Air Act to bypass Congress and impose their own regulatory structure on greenhouse gases. So their problem is not that Congress has given them an unworkable regime; the problem is that they can’t possibly meet their own outside-the-law regime.

Even as someone who accepts AGW, this is absurd. It’s a massive “break glass in case of emergency” burden that will result, if everything works out, in lowering the temperature of the planet by an amount that can’t be measured. I don’t agree with the current push to abolish the EPA. But Congress should put the kibosh on this immediately, preferably as part of a larger bill that will forbid them from going beyond their existing mandate.

Let Obama veto it if he wants. He can explain to the American people why he’s imposing such a gigantic burden during a recession.

Update: Mother Jones clarifies, from the actual filing, that what EPA is trying to do is avoid such a massive expansion (which they will never get) and limit their restriction to the large CO2 emitters. They are essentially arguing that the current mandate (their own) is impossible.

This does not change the basic problem: EPA has dug a hole for themselves by asserting, and getting court authority for, more power than they should have. They are already illustrating why a complex cap and trade scheme will almost certainly fail. I didn’t think such a huge expansion of EPA would actually happen. But it illustrates the scale of runaway regulation.

The Whole Ozone


President Barack Obama, citing the struggling economy, asked the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to withdraw an air-quality rule that Republicans and business groups said would cost millions of jobs.

The surprise move—coming on the same day as a dismal unemployment report—reflected the energy industry’s importance as a rare bright spot in adding U.S. jobs. The tighter standards for smog-forming ozone could have forced states and cities to limit some oil-and-gas projects.

In making the move, the White House clearly judged that it had more to lose from industry and Republican criticism than it had to gain from environmental groups who support the rule.

The implementation of the ozone rule was difficult to defend. Bush had just lowered permissible ozone levels only a year before. Implementing this was going to blow a hole in the economy of up to $90 billion (assuming the standards can be met, which is not clear). Of course, the EPA estimated it would save 12,000 lives a year (perhaps; it’s disputed). But, even assuming they’re right, that’s $7.5 million per life saved. $7.5 million should save a lot more than one life.

Naturally, the Left is furious. I’ve heard more than one liberal say this is the last straw with Obama. Of course, they’ve been saying that since January 21 of 2009, so take that with some salt.

I think what’s happened here is that Obama got caught between panders. He tried to pander to the environmentalists by rushing in ozone standards too quickly and without proper study. I have no idea if he ever intended to enforce them, but he’s at the point now where he can’t. The economy is too weak and resistance is too strong. So he panders back by delaying them.

Result? The Right is pissed that he tried to put the standards in place and the Left is pissed because he didn’t. Well played.

I suspect, however, that we haven’t heard the end of this. As usual, the Left is caterwauling because they’re not getting right now what they’re likely to get later. The Clean Air Act is up for renewal in 2013. And there’s an election before then. It’s likely that ozone standards will be tightened at some point. Hopefully, they’ll wait for the technology to catch up to the point where the economic impact is minimal.