Can the United States regulate global warming?

Critics say a cap-and-trade system in the U.S. is costly and harmful to American competitiveness in the global market.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently declared the six principal greenhouse gases to be air pollutants that pose a risk to public health and welfare. This is the first step for the United States toward addressing its contribution to global warming, and itâÄôs about time. The EPA did not include any regulations or emissions targets in its announcement, but it will soon begin regulating motor vehicles. Regulations may expand to include power plants, oil refineries and factories. Both President Barack Obama and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson have called on lawmakers to guide the regulatory process. The work in Washington has already started. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, draft legislation, includes provisions for increasing energy efficiency, developing clean energy and establishing a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The European Union established a cap-and-trade system in 2005 to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol and has estimates that compliance will cost about $4 billion per year, which is less than 0.1 percent of its GDP. While thatâÄôs not much, it has caused energy prices to increase and has generated some turmoil in industries there. But the cap-and-trade system is appealing because it is the most cost-effective way of regulating carbon emissions. Many people have expressed fear that the EPAâÄôs findings will lead inevitably to a tax on breathing and that plant life will starve because of carbon dioxide shortages. Here is my challenge to skeptics. The findings are now in a 60-day public comment period before they are made official. If you can debunk the theory of global warming, contact the EPA within the next 60 days and do so. If, however, you cannot, allow the rest of us to continue the debate on how best to mitigate the threat of global warming so we can begin what we should have been doing five years ago. This column, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Rocky Mountain Collegian at Colorado State University. Please send comments to [email protected]