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WSJ Editorial: "Democrats Face A Moment Of Truth On Regulatory Cap And Trade" | Missouri Political News Service

WSJ Editorial: “Democrats Face A Moment Of Truth On Regulatory Cap And Trade”

March 28th, 2011 by mopns · No Comments

Discussing the McConnell amendment to prevent the EPA from instituting a backdoor national energy tax through regulation of greenhouse gases as pollutants, The Wall Street Journal writes in a must-read editorial today, “The Environmental Protection Agency debate lands in the Senate this week, amid the makings of a left-right coalition to mitigate the agency’s abuses. Few other votes this year could do more to help the private economy—but only if enough Democrats are willing to buck the White House.”

The WSJ editors go on to explain what the Obama administration is attempting to do through EPA regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases: “The Obama Administration moved to exploit this power [granted by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in 2006] by threatening that the EPA would make a carbon ‘endangerment finding’ if Congress didn’t pass a climate bill. This threat was potent for the simple reason that the Clean Air Act’s intrusive command-and-control systems were never written or meant to address an emission as ubiquitous as carbon dioxide. It’s like trying to perform surgery with a butter knife, and Mr. Obama hoped that the pain would force industry to beg for cap and tax. The EPA went ahead with its endangerment ruling, but cap and trade failed in the Senate last year anyway. 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.”

“But,” the editors write, “a vote for the McConnell amendment, which would permanently bar the EPA from regulating carbon unless Congress passed new legislation, 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. A vote to overrule the EPA is also needed to remove the regulatory uncertainty hanging over the economy. This harm is already apparent in energy, where the EPA is trying to drive coal-fired power out of existence. The core electricity generation that the country needs to meet future demand is not being built, and it won’t be until the EPA is bridled. This same dynamic is also chilling the natural gas boom in the Northeast, and it is making U.S. energy-intensive industries less competitive world-wide. As the EPA screws tighten, the costs will be passed along to consumers, with the same damage as a tax increase but none of the revenues. Eventually, the EPA plan will appreciably lower the U.S. standard of living.”

And a good number of Democrat senators have been openly critical of the EPA’s plans for regulating carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. Some Democrats have been outright critical of the EPA using the Clean Air Act in the way the Obama Administration is proposing. For instance, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said last year, “The fact remains that allowing the EPA to make an end run around Congress and twist the Clean Air Act for this purpose would result in ever-changing regulations and uncertainty in the private investment market that would damage Louisiana’s already fragile economy and fail to address the risks of climate change.” Others have expressed their concerns about the EPA making an end run around Congress, as groups of Democrats have done over the last 2 years.

In addition to the well-documented concerns about the EPA’s attempts to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants Democrats have identified, also interesting is a new Gallup poll on environmental issues out today. Among a list of environmental concerns Gallup asked Americans if they were worried about, global warming came in dead last. Further, the percentage of respondents saying that they worry “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about the issue has dropped 12 points over the last decade, a greater drop in concern over all the other environmental issues Gallup identified save one.

Clearly, Senate Democrats have myriad reasons to vote for the McConnell amendment. As The Wall Street Journal editors conclude, “The McConnell amendment is one of the best proposals for growth and job creation to make it onto the Senate docket in years. If Mr. Obama is intent on defending the EPA’s regulatory assault, then the least Senate Democrats can do is force him to defend his choices himself.”


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