Thursday, February 19, 2009

Breathing Again

Since January 20, 2009, there are many ways in which Americans are breathing again. Coming up is a decision mandated by the Supreme Court in April, 2007, and ignored by the cabal that kept the executive branch law-free for the past eight years. That edict, of course, is the direction to the EPA to determine if carbon emissions constitute a threat to human health.

Looks easy. Smoke endangers health, greenhouse gases are emitted by burning carbon, if you want a quick test, start your car inside your garage and close the doors. Sorry, not a funny joke. But we know the answer, and under Ms. Jackson we have to make that official. Results to the finding include many ways in which that threat will have to be addressed. As with all changes, some elements will suffer.

If the environmental agency determines that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant to be regulated under the Clean Air Act, it would set off one of the most extensive regulatory rule makings in history. Ms. Jackson knows that she would be stepping into a minefield of Congressional and industry opposition and said that she was trying to devise a program that allayed these worries.

“We are poised to be specific on what we regulate and on what schedule,” Ms. Jackson said. “We don’t want people to spin that into a doomsday scenario.”

Even some who favor an aggressive approach to climate change said they were wary of the agency’s asserting exclusive authority over carbon emissions. They say that the Clean Air Act, now more than 40 years old, was not designed to regulate ubiquitous substances like carbon dioxide. Using the law, they say, would capture carbon emissions from new facilities, but not existing ones, blunting its impact. They also believe that a broader approach that addresses all sectors of the economy and that is fully debated in Congress would be better than a regulatory approach that could drag through the courts for years.

The finding and proposed regulations would be issued in sequence, with ample opportunity for public comment and not in a sudden burst of regulatory muscle-flexing, Ms. Jackson said. The regulations would work in concert with any legislation and not supplant it, she added.

“What we are likely to see is an interplay of authorities, some new, some existing,” she said.

It is a breath of fresh air (sorry, gotta play with words) to have executive branch agencies that we know will actually serve the public interest at last. The deaths of any number of innocents seemed more a titillation than a concern to the previous occupied White House. Now we know that the best interests of the country will be served, all we need is a determination of what those are.

As usual, industry wants its interests served, and those include those automakers who have been so rocked by the incompetence of their directors. For aeons, combining with the oil companies of rapacious tendencies, the automakers have fought tooth and nail to keep the air nasty. Jobs are at stake, the same jobs that will be much improved if they are applied to low emission vehicles. There is no economic gain to workers from the behemoths the directors of the industry preferred for years after the public showed its distaste for them by buying the better cars from abroad.

Another interest is the coal industry. We all know the conditions of coalmining, and wish to relieve anyone from the hazards of employment there. I still chuckle at the indignant coalfield caller to CSpan who insisted that the coal was washed before it ever left the area, and was perfectly clean coal. Carbon sequestration is possible, which would allow for the continued use of the coal in energy production. However, with the potential for development of wind and solar energy without the dirty byproducts of coal, it's really unreasonable to think that we should preserve such an undesirable industry. Workers (even mine owner/developers) can be retrained, and the hills of coal country can be cleaned up of the toxic wastes now being produced.

It is to be hoped that Ms. Jackson can have the good sense to see industry's better interests over the heads of those wildly gesticulating incompetents who have tried to drive their industries and their country over the cliff.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home