The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

A False Choice

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted December 10, 2009

At least two states are objecting to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) endangerment finding. As reported earlier this week, this finding paves the way for EPA regulators to restrict carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

North Dakota's Governor John Hoeven and Rep. Earl Pomeroy assert that Congress, not the EPA, should be in charge of regulating carbon dioxide. As Pomeroy told the Associated Press, giving the EPA authority to act is "exactly the wrong way to go."

Similarly, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was quoted as saying, "The unelected bureaucrats at the EPA have effectively and unilaterally ended any honest debate on this vital issue."

The endangerment finding is the administration's ace-in-a-hole in the climate change issue. It means, in essence, that either Congress must pass a bill, or the administration will control greenhouse gases (GHGs) without any input from those who've been elected to represent the American people.

"Critics are correct to point out that EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act isn't the most efficient way to clamp down on carbon emissions, absent broader congressional action. EPA officials would regulate source by source, with lawsuits slowing the process and technological hurdles likely constraining action--or making it very expensive," said The Washington Post in an editorial today.

As a result of the endangerment finding, members of Congress have a difficult decision to make--whether to pass a climate bill, perhaps based on the Waxman-Markey legislation that was approved by the House in June, or to stand back and watch as the EPA begins the process of regulating carbon.

In either case, American consumers are likely to become the losers. While it's too early to determine the potential cost of EPA regulations, plenty of studies have shown that Waxman-Markey type legislation could destroy 2 million jobs and sharply raise energy prices.

Congress should not feel compelled to choose between EPA regulations and the Waxman-Markey bill. As The Post today said, "The threat of the EPA regulating in Congress's stead should persuade lawmakers to look at climate-change afresh." Congress should come up with a better plan.