EPA chief: Hey, timing of new CO2 regulations just a coincidence!
posted at 12:15 pm on December 9, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Did any of us think that the timing of the EPA’s announcement to regulate carbon dioxide had anything to do with the conference on CO2 emissions in Copenhagen — which the President plans to attend? Heaven forfend, says Lisa Jackson, the EPA’s administrator, who says it’s just all one big coincidence. And she assure us of that from … where?
COPENHAGEN— Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson insisted Wednesday that her agency did not time the release of its global-warming endangerment finding to jump-start climate talks here.
“The endangerment finding and the work here are separate,” she told a packed room at the Bella Center. “Certainly, I was glad we were able to complete the finding and make that statement just before, but that wasn’t the impetus for our work.”
International negotiators have jumped on the ruling as a way for the Obama administration to increase its commitment to slashing greenhouse gases, regardless whether Congress goes along.
The ruling forces the EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions reductions from industrial polluters like power plants, factories and auto makers.
Uh … sure it’s a coincidence. Barack Obama wanted to go to Copenhagen with a cap-and-trade bill in his hand, but the Senate couldn’t get 60 votes for cloture on Waxman-Markey. Harry Reid had to put it off until spring, which politically means it’s dead. Obama wasn’t about to show up in Copenhagen the way he left after his Olympic pitch — empty-handed — so the EPA made sure Obama didn’t look completely impotent.
But even if the EPA expedited its findings, they didn’t come as a surprise. The Obama administration warned Congress that a failure to produce climate-control legislation would result in an executive branch bypass of the legislature. Mark Tapscott warns that this may be even more dangerous than the economic implications of EPA regulation of CO2:
There are so many deep flaws in the “Endangerment Ruling” announced Monday by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency that it is quite possible the worst of them will escape notice. After all, it’s hard to top the drama of the millions of lost jobs and the crippling energy crisis that will result if the agency begins regulating greenhouse gases — mainly CO2. The agency unilaterally awarded itself authority to do just that with the ruling. But even worse will be the terrible damage this ruling will inflict upon one of the most basic of American constitutional pillars, the separation of powers among co-equal branches, in this case the president and Congress. Obama has launched a thermonuclear warhead aimed directly at the very heart of congressional authority.
Here’s why: The EPA Endangerment Ruling assigns to the agency authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions not included under that law’s purview. Indeed, when the original law was approved by Congress, nobody said a word about any agency of the federal government telling any business or industry in America how much CO2 it could emit. By now saying the law gives it unilateral authority to declare CO2 dangerous pollutants, the EPA is grabbing power to regulate the 85 percent of the U.S. economy that depends on energy derived from the burning of carbon-based fuels. Those fuels — oil, natural gas, and coal — are heavy CO2 emitters. This ruling thus renders congressional intent irrelevant. If the ruling stands, the law will then be whatever the president and his bureaucratic minions in the executive branch decree, not what the people decide acting through their elected representatives in Congress.
Liberals used to screech about the Bush administration’s belief in the “unitary executive,” a concept they misunderstood from the start. However, this power grab more closely resembles the point of their hysteria than anything Bush proposed. Obama and Jackson have essentially bypassed Congress altogether and given the EPA the power to interfere in just about every transaction that takes place in the US. That creates a juggernaut of an executive, unbounded in any practical way by Congress from using and abusing power.
In fact, the EPA’s timing makes that clear. It intends to allow Obama to argue that he can implement any Copenhagen agreement by diktat, rather than wait to see if 60 Democrats in the Senate ratify a treaty in the proper manner and then legislate to enforce it.
Update: Looks like Jackson twittered out the other side of her, er, keyboard, as Stephen Hayes reports.