27 Mar 2011

Defang the EPA on the Clean Air Act, or not? The answer is coming…

Written by theenergyfix

Congress vs. President Obama on the Clean Air Act. Image from Wikipedia Commons

The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on legislation that would take away the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate harmful greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. President Obama opposes it. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has gone so far as to call the maneuver “draconian.” Companion legislation is slated for a vote in the U.S. House in April, when it’s expected to easily pass.

Former EPA Administrators William Ruckelshaus (the first Administrator actually) and Christine Todd Whitman weighed in with an op-ed in The Washington Post last week prodding Senate Democrats to defeat the measure. The Wall Street Journal today chimed in, predictably, to teach readers a  lesson about our democracy urging passage.

Wrote Ruckelshaus and Whiteman, in part: “We should take heart from all this progress and not, as some in Congress have suggested, seek to tear down the agency that the president (Nixon) and Congress (in 1970) created to protect America’s health and environment. It has taken four decades to put in place the infrastructure to ensure that pollution is controlled through limitations on corporate, municipal and individual conduct. Dismantle that infrastructure today, and a new one would have to be created tomorrow at great expense and at great sacrifice to America’s public health and environment.”

And here’s an excerpt from The Journal’s editorial:  “The EPA now claims its carbon regulation is compelled by the Supreme Court, as if Congress can’t change the law, as well as by “science,” as if Congress is a potted plant…a vote for the McConnell amendment is justified on democratic prerogatives alone. Whatever one’s views of Massachusetts v. EPA or climate science, no elected representative has ever voted on an EPA plan that has often involved the unilateral redrafting of plain-letter law.

So who’s more correct?  Congress has every right to legislate the changes it wants. If both chambers pass anything close to the anticipated amendment to come from Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, the question falls to President Obama. If he can separate this issue from whatever larger bill it will be seeking to amend, HE will be able to stop it. He’ll reap the kudos or suffer the consequences.

Let the chips fall where they may.

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