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The EPA’s war on carbon

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 7, 2009 11:28 AM

Eco-czars of the Obama administration, activate!

Form of…a corrupted “scientific” finding on greenhouse gas “public endangerment.”

Timed for maximum impact on the Copenhagen global warming treaty talks, the Obama EPA is set to announce that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, paving the way for the green bureaucrats to radically regulate emissions.

Keeping an open mind about dissenting researchers? Listening to input from the Hill? Screw them:

The Obama administration is pressing for a new law that would establish a cap-and-trade system to curb emissions from power plants and scores of other sources. But the administration has also warned that it plans to move ahead with EPA rules absent a final bill. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is urging GOP colleagues to back an emissions bill in part because Congress, not EPA, should decide the contours of a national emissions program. The so-called endangerment finding stems from a major 2007 Supreme Court decision that enables EPA to limit the emissions if it finds that greenhouses gases are indeed a danger. The agency issued a preliminary finding in April.

The EPA announcement could also give U.S. negotiators more leverage at the international climate talks in Copenhagen that begin today, demonstrating domestic action even though Congress has not completed a final bill to curb emissions.

Although EPA chief Lisa Jackson will make the announcement this afternoon, the edict has global warming zealot and Obama energy czar/chief ClimateGate denier Carol “Put nothing in writing…ever” Browner’s fingerprints all over it.

Take a moment to refresh your memories on how Obama’s enviro-ministers have dealt with inside watchdogs on the endangerment issue. It’s the same way the ClimateGate cabal has dealt with its critics: By attempting to squash them. From my June 26 column:

The free market-based Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington (where I served as a journalism fellow in 1995) obtained a set of internal e-mails exposing Team Obama’s willful and reckless disregard for data that undermine the illusion of “consensus.” In March, Alan Carlin, a senior research analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency, asked agency officials to distribute his analysis on the health effects of greenhouse gases. EPA has proposed a public health “endangerment finding” covering CO2 and five other gases that would trigger costly, extensive new regulations of motor vehicles. The open comment period on the ruling ended this week. But Carlin’s study didn’t fit the blame-human-activity narrative, so it didn’t make the cut.

On March 12, Carlin’s director, Al McGartland, forbade him from having “any direct communication” with anyone outside his office about his study. “There should be no meetings, emails, written statements, phone calls, etc.” On March 16, Carlin urged his superiors to forward his work to EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, which runs the agency’s climate change program. A day later, McGartland dismissed Carlin and showed his true, politicized colors:

“The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision… I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.”

Contrary comments, in other words, would interfere with the “process” of ramming the EPA’s endangerment finding through. Truth-in-science took a backseat to protecting eco-bureaucrats from “a very negative impact.”

In another follow-up e-mail, McGartland warned Carlin to drop the subject altogether: “With the endangerment finding nearly final, you need to move on to other issues and subjects. I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change. No papers, no research etc, at least until we see what EPA is going to do with Climate.”

But, of course, the e-mails show that EPA had already predetermined what it was going to do – “move forward on endangerment.” Which underscores the fact that the open public comment period was all for show. In her message to the public about the radical greenhouse gas rules, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson requested “comment on the data on which the proposed findings are based, the methodology used in obtaining and analyzing the data, and the major legal interpretations and policy considerations underlying the proposed findings.” Ms. Jackson, meet Mr. Carlin.

The EPA now justifies the suppression of the study because economist Carlin (a 35-year veteran of the agency who also holds a B.S. in physics) “is an individual who is not a scientist.” Neither is Al Gore. Nor is environmental czar Carol Browner. Nor is cap-and-trade shepherd Nancy Pelosi. Carlin’s analysis incorporated peer-reviewed studies and, as he informed his colleagues, “significant new research” related to the proposed endangerment finding. According to those who have seen his study, it spotlights EPA’s reliance on out-of-date research, uncritical recycling of United Nations data, and omission of new developments, including a continued decline in global temperatures and a new consensus that future hurricane behavior won’t be different than in the past.

But the message from his superiors was clear: La-la-la, we can’t hear you.

In April, President Obama declared that “the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.” Another day, another broken promise.

Philip Klein has more on the EPA bureaucrats expanding their power under the guise of saving the planet:

Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, made these intentions clear in her opening memo to employees in January 2009. “EPA will stand ready to help Congress craft strong, science-based climate legislation that fulfills the vision of the President,” she wrote, adding, “As Congress does its work, we will move ahead to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing EPA’s obligation to address climate change under the Clean Air Act.”

The Supreme Court decision Jackson referred to is Massachusetts v. EPA. Decided in 2007, the Court ruled that, pending a finding of “endangerment,” the EPA was required to regulate greenhouse gases in new vehicles. Obama appointed the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit, Lisa Heinzerling, to be senior policy counsel on climate change at the EPA, a position that does not require confirmation. In her speeches and academic writings, Heinzerling has advocated an unabashedly activist role for the federal government in regulating carbon emissions….

Heinzerling has gone so far as to argue that since global warming kills people, a failure to address it is tantamount to somebody not acting on prior knowledge that a homicide is going to take place.

“Knowledge that death and suffering will result from our actions leads uncontroversially to a moral obligation to change our behavior,” Heinzerling wrote in a 2008 article for the Georgetown Law Journal. “In the United States, knowing killing is condemned in the criminal laws of all 50 states, in modern regulatory laws at the federal level, and in civil jury awards in tort cases. These laws embody a moral commitment against knowing killing that, in traditional criminal contexts, is uncontroversial. It should be no more controversial when it occurs on a global scale.”

Jackson is set to speak in Copenhagen.

I call to your attention GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe’s warning when the EPA took its first steps on this finding:

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said today that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed endangerment finding will unleash a torrent of regulations that will destroy jobs, harm consumers, and extend the agency’s reach into every corner of American life. Despite enormous expense and hardship for the American economy, these regulations will have virtually no effect on climate change.

“Today’s action by the EPA is the beginning of a regulatory barrage that will destroy jobs, raise energy prices for consumers, and undermine America’s global competitiveness,” Senator Inhofe said. “It now appears EPA’s regulatory reach will find its way into schools, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and just about any activity that meets minimum thresholds in the Clean Air Act. Rep. John Dingell was right: the endangerment finding will produce a ‘glorious mess.’

“It’s worth noting that the solution to this ‘glorious mess’ is not for Congress to pass cap-and-trade legislation, which replaces one very bad approach with another. Congress should pass a simple, narrowly-targeted bill that stops EPA in its tracks.”

Endangering Farmers, the Elderly, and Construction Workers: Once EPA makes a finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare under the Clean Air Act, who, specifically, would be affected? As EPA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) makes clear, an endangerment finding would lead to regulations covering nearly every facet of the American economy. In reading through comments filed in the regulatory docket, one is struck by how broadly the Clean Air Act would apply once an endangerment finding is made-especially to sources that have hitherto never come under the ambit of the Act. EPA received thousands of public comments from various industries and groups that expressed concern and outright opposition-on issues of cost, competitiveness, jobs, and administrative complexity-to greenhouse gas regulation under the CAA.

AN “HISTORIC” DAY: EPA’s finding is indeed historic news, for the simple fact that it will enlarge EPA’s regulatory reach to an unprecedented degree, extending it into every corner of the US economy, causing enormous economic damage. According to Peter Glaser, a national legal expert on the Clean Air Act, an endangerment finding will lead to new EPA regulations covering virtually everything, including “office buildings, apartment buildings, warehouse and storage buildings, educational buildings, health care buildings such as hospitals and assisted living facilities, hotels, restaurants, religious worship buildings, public assembly buildings, supermarkets, retail malls, agricultural facilities…and many others.” An array of new development projects could be delayed, perhaps for several years, causing “an economic train wreck.” This conclusion was supported recently by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, which found that EPA’s new carbon regulations would destroy over 800,000 jobs and result in a cumulative GDP loss of $7 trillion by 2029.

Risky Legal Schemes: “…hospitals, schools, farms, commercial buildings, and a host of other small sources emit more than 250 tons per year of CO2-a limit expressly mentioned in the statute-they will be required, once an endangerment finding is made and CO2 becomes a regulated pollutant, to obtain costly, burdensome pre-construction permits for their activities…Further, Glaser notes that “the statutory language is mandatory and does not leave any room for EPA to exercise discretion or create exceptions.” In short, unless Congress exempts them, there’s no way out for schools, assisted living facilities, and thousands upon thousands of small businesses.”

I declare the Obama eco-appartchiks a public danger whose regulatory emissions must be contained.

***

Side note: My views on the Obama green power grab and the global warming mob have been clear and unchanged from day one. Some folks have asked about the ad that is appearing on the site today. I obviously do not agree with the advertiser’s support for the Copenhagen treaty.

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