Don’t choke the Clean Air Act

Federal lawmakers challenge the EPA’s ability to regulate.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has co-sponsored a resolution in the House that would repeal the Environmental Protection AgencyâÄôs long-expected December decision that greenhouse gases can and must be regulated by the Clean Air Act. The resolution is identical to one already in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Peterson calls this endangerment finding âÄúunwarranted,âÄù while Murkowski calls it âÄúbackdoor,âÄù âÄúexpensive and intrusive.âÄù The trouble is that the EPAâÄôs endangerment finding is based on an unequivocal 2007 Supreme Court ruling that found greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air ActâÄôs definition of regulated pollutants and must therefore be regulated as such. Unless readers think the Supreme Court has a soft spot for the environment, other recent findings have rendered the Clean Water Act largely moot for many industrial polluters. Granted, part of CongressâÄô censure of the EPA is merely an assertion that elected officials, not âÄúbureaucrats,âÄù should be the ones to take action on climate change. While itâÄôs true that the regulation of greenhouse gases and other pollutants ought to ideally have firm grounding in legislation, CongressâÄô inaction up to this point has been stunning. It can hardly be coincidence that, as the Center for Public Integrity reports, the climate change lobby in Washington has more than tripled since 2003, largely on behalf of big oil, utility and manufacturing companies. The EPA has done what it had to do, and Congress should not waste valuable time and energy scuttling their efforts. The answer from here is to move ahead with meaningful, forward-looking action on climate change.