The alarm over a power grab by the EPA based on an endangerment finding on carbon dioxide became bipartisan yesterday. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced a bill to slap a two-year moratorium on any enforcement action by the EPA in an attempt to protect his home state’s coal industry. The bill puts into jeopardy the “Plan B” of the White House on global-warming policy:
As climate change legislation stalled in the Senate, the Obama administration noted that it had a workable — although admittedly unwieldy — Plan B. If Congress wouldn’t cap U.S. emissions, officials said, the Environmental Protection Agency would do it instead.
Now, even Plan B may be in trouble.
On Thursday, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill that would put a two-year freeze on the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants. His was the latest of various congressional proposals — from both chambers and both parties — designed to delay or overturn the EPA’s regulations.
It is unclear how far Rockefeller’s bill will go. Even if it passed, it could face a presidential veto. But environmentalists are worried that the measure could attract moderate Democrats, who are worried, in turn, about driving up the prices of fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
And, in a broader sense, activists are concerned about a loss of momentum for action on climate change.
If they’re worried about lost momentum, they’re looking in the wrong place. Conservatives and moderates are simply reacting to a collapse in the supposedly “settled” science of anthropogenic global warming at the IPCC. The UN body’s work has been exposed as mainly based on advocate claims, student dissertations, and work done by organizations like the East Anglia CRU that actively hid data and conspired to undermine their critics.
The EPA has also not helped their case, specifically regarding West Virginia. The agency has blocked permits for coal operations, putting hundreds and possibly thousands of jobs in danger in a state that relies on coal for its economy. Rockefeller has to be accountable to those constituents, although his colleague from West Virginia doesn’t feel quite the same responsibility:
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), coal state colleague of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), said he won’t back Rockefeller’s legislative efforts to limit the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants.
Byrd’s statement is a setback for Rockefeller’s effort to limit EPA’s power under the Clean Air Act. EPA, to defuse such efforts, has voluntarily said it would not regulate CO2 emissions from stationary sources of those emissions for a year or so to give Congress time to come up with its own climate bill.
Byrd notwithstanding, Rockefeller is likely to get support from moderate Democrats, especially those from coal-producing states. He argues that the EPA should not be in charge of setting policy in the first place, and that their effort usurps Congress’ role in that sense. Nor is the effort limited to the House on that score, either:
Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) are co-sponsoring a “resolution of disapproval” introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). It calls for Congress to overturn the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health and welfare, the trigger for the agency’s efforts to regulate them.
In the House, Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) and Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) have introduced a measure similar to Murkowski’s. Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) proposes to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate pollution linked to global warming. And House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.) and Reps. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.) and Rick Boucher (D-Va.) have said they will introduce a companion bill to Rockefeller’s.
Plan C, anyone?