Cap-and-trade won’t go anywhere this year, maybe never. However, this doesn’t mean that politicians won’t try and save the world from the threat of climate change. The EPA found in December 2009 that “greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people” – Source. They classified Carbon Dioxide as a pollutant thus allowing them to regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
Direct EPA regulation without legislation is potentially crippling to the economy, and has many legislators crying foul. With cap-and-trade dead, the EPA has taken the lead in climate regulations, but they are not the only agency to create climate change regulations.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to look at the environmental impact of their potential regulations. On January 15’th, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) said:
“CEQ believes that it is appropriate and necessary to consider the impact of significant Federal actions on greenhouse gas emissions and the potential for climate change to affect Federal activities evaluated through NEPA…” – Source
This means all agencies must ensure that their regulations do not impact greenhouse gas emissions negatively. Several Senators said about the CEQ’s finding:
“Requiring analysis of climate change impacts during the NEPA process, especially at the project-specific level, will slow our economic recovery while providing no meaningful environmental benefits,” – Source
Other agencies are involved. Just today the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled that companies must disclose potential effects of climate change in their corporate findings:
“Guidelines approved today require companies to weigh the impact of climate-change laws and regulations when assessing what information to include in corporate filings, the commission said. The SEC is responding to investors who said companies aren’t providing enough data on the potential risks to their profits and operations from environmental-protection laws.” – Source
These guidelines also had several detractors, one of which stated that he was:
“troubled by an undertaking which seems so transparently political and such a breathtaking waste of the commission’s resources.” Source
Well said. With the EPA’s scientific basis for their regulation of CO2 under scrutiny it makes little sense to attempt regulation through other agencies. Common sense would seem to dictate that they wait until the spotlight is removed from the EPA and climate science in general before they attempt even more regulation. I suppose common sense isn’t all too common in Washington.