Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Internal Dissent On Regulation of Carbon Dioxide

Even as Rep. Waxman announces that, after but a few brief hearings, he will move Cap and Trade legislation out of committee this week, someone in government has leaked a classified OMB document that raises very serious questions as to why the EPA issued a rule finding carbon dioxide a "pollutant" subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. Our thugocracy in Washington is pushing back, saying that the document should be ignored. And lo and behold, it would seem that is precisely what most of the MSM is doing. (Note - the exception to that is, as always, Jake Taper of ABC News, a man who rises in my estimation daily)

You can find the leaked document here. Some of the critical passages from the document:

The finding rests heavily on the precautionary principle, but the amount of acknowledged lack of understanding about basic facts surrounding GHGs seem to stretch the precautionary principle to providing for regulation in the face of unprecedented uncertainty. (The TSD notes several areas where essential behaviors of GHGs are "not well determined" and "not well understood" (e.g., why have U.S. methane levels decreased recently?).)

. . . In the absence of a strong statement of the standards being applied in this decision, there is a concern that EPA is making a finding based on (1) "harm" from substances that have no demonstrated direct health effects, such as respiratory or toxic effects, (2) available scientific data that purports to conclusively establish the nature and extent of the adverse public health and welfare impacts are almost exclusively from non-EPA sources, and (3) applying a dramatically expanded precautionary principle. If EPA goes forward with a finding of endangerment for all 6 GHGs, it could be establishing a relaxed and expansive new standard for endangerment. Subsequently, EPA would be petitioned to find endangerment and regulate many other “pollutants" for the sake of the precautionary principle (e.g., electromagnetic fields, perchlorates, endocrine disruptors, and noise).

. . . [A]n endangerment finding under section 202 may not be not the most appropriate approach for regulating GHGs. Making the decision to regulate CO2 under the CAA for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities. Should EPA later extend this finding to stationary sources, small businesses and institutions would be subject to costly regulatory programs such as New Source Review.

These are just a few of the very serious criticisms of the EPA decision to regulate carbon dioxide in the memo - a decision clearly greenlighted by the thugocracy in the White House and that is now being used as a cudgel to force cap and trade. But cap and trade is a system that has not proven itself as effective - to the contrary, last year it was reported that the cap and trade system had proven completely ineffective, with carbon dioxide levels in Europe actually rising under the program. Indeed, the sole proven benefits of cap and trade seem to be, one, as a method of vastly expanding the reach of government, two, as a vehicle for vastly expanding government coffers, and three, as a windfall for certain special interests while increasing the direct and indirect costs to everyone else.

There is also another potential problem with regulation of CO2. It puts a premium on moving into "green energy" that is, at best, not cost effective and unproven at scale. It does so while insuring that traditional means of energy production are not replaced by like means as they age. This will almost surely lead to catastrophe, as indeed, it seems a path that Britain is on today. This is oft a topic of discussion on the blog EU Referendum. See here and here. And while it is a topic no one is even raising in the U.S. at this point, it is very much a foreseeable consequence for us if we go far down this mad road of CO2 regulation.

At any rate, given the importance of this OMB document and given the ramifications of the decision to go forward with cap and trade, one would think that this would be given a lot of play in the MSM. One would of course be wrong on that. The story only made the NYT blogs and an AP story made it into the back pages of the Washington Post. The One is not to be questioned. This really is beyond a travesty.

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