June 9, 2010
In spite of fine sounding words to the contrary, Washington is planning a devastating blow to small businesses, hard-working families, and people living on fixed incomes. The Obama White House is teaming up with the nation's most powerful regulatory agency to impose far-reaching and absurdly expensive energy-use restrictions on the struggling U.S. economy.
When the highly unpopular "cap-and-trade" bill (an energy tax with a deceptive name) got hung up in Congress, the White House decided to do administratively what it can't do legislatively. Initiating an outrageous power grab that subverts the constitutionally prescribed separation of powers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an "endangerment finding" under the Clean Air Act alleging that emissions of manmade greenhouse gases—particularly carbon dioxide (CO2)— pose a threat to the climate and public health.
The nearly 40-year-old Clean Air Act was designed to deal with traditional pollutants emitted from vehicles, manufacturing facilities, and the like. But the Clean Air Act is ill suited to deal with trace amounts of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). As one Democratic senator put it, EPA is trying to "jam a square peg into a round hole."
Most CO2 in the atmosphere occurs naturally, and some is produced by the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), which provide 85 percent of our energy. CO2 is natural, beneficial, and essential to life on earth.
As the scientific evidence that manmade greenhouse gases are dangerously warming the climate crumbles and in spite of their own admission that regulating greenhouse gases will have a negligible impact on the climate, the EPA is plotting a draconian, made-in-Washington flood of intrusive energy-rationing regulations. If left unchecked, expect new government intrusions into our daily lives with the greatest harm to moderate- and low-income families.
Today, the average household spends 5 percent of its income on energy. For people living on fixed incomes and those near the bottom of the economic ladder, that figure rises to around 25 percent. The Brookings Institute estimates that, under a cap-and-trade system, families would see their heating, cooling, transportation, food, and clothing costs soar by $3,000 a year from 2012 to 2050. And EPA's scheme is far more drastic and costly than already prohibitively expensive cap-and-trade.
Under the endangerment finding, EPA wants to use the Clean Air Act to regulate all vehicles and millions of power plants, factories, farms, office and apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, small businesses, and churches.
With unemployment already hovering near 10 percent, EPA's plan will add to our economic problems, diminishing the quality of life for ordinary Americans without providing any measurable environmental benefits.
It will, however, succeed in giving Washington even more power over the lives of the American people.
But all is not lost. Within the next few days, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will put before the Senate her "Resolution of Disapproval." This would put the Senate on record as rejecting the White House/EPA power grab.
Under the Congressional Review Act, only 51 votes are needed to approve her resolution, and more than 40 senators representing both parties already back it. Passage in the Senate would make it difficult for the House to avoid a similar measure and the signal to the White House would be unmistakable: The American people are fed up with Washington's arrogance and want their country returned to fiscal sanity and the constitutional principles.
The consequences of putting hard-working families and small businesses at the mercy of unaccountable EPA bureaucrats cannot be understated. Climategate e-mails show that the so-called "consensus" on global warming is little more than collusion by taxpayer-funded researchers to suppress data and stifle scientific dissent. That makes the sacrifices demanded of us all the more deplorable. Our pain/bureaucracy's gain is no way to run a country.
This is yet another example of the political elite's apparent disdain for the good people who work hard, play by the rules, raise their children, and live within their means. Pushing back is a long-overdue step to restore order and accountability.