Following the schedule leaked to the public earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency has sent a global warming endangerment finding to the White House, nearly two years after the Supreme Court mandated action. The finding that “global warming is endangering the public’s health and welfare” will be signed by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on April 16th after interagency review, for publication in the Federal Register on April 30th. By the time the decision is finalized after two months of public comment, it will have been nearly two years since the EPA was blocked by the Bush White House from issuing such a finding.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce responded with dismay. Bill Kovacs, the Chamber’s vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs, complained:
By moving forward with the endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, EPA is putting in motion a set of decisions that may have far-reaching unintended consequences. Specifically, once the finding is made, no matter how limited, some environmental groups will sue to make sure it is applied to all aspects of the Clean Air Act. This will mean that all infrastructure projects, including those under the president’s stimulus initiative, will be subject to environmental review for greenhouse gases. Since not one of the projects has been subjected to that review, it is possible that the projects under the stimulus initiative will cease. This will be devastating to the economy.
Far from being “devastating to the economy,” a global warming endangerment finding is needed to allow the government and businesses to rationally guide future economic policy. As Robert Sussman wrote in the Wonk Room last year, responding to the same doom and gloom scenario painted that time by the Wall Street Journal, this fear is without merit:
The specter of bureaucrats running amok and strangling the economy — by intruding into small businesses and individual households and banning fuels on which millions of Americans depend — is a fantasy of die-hard free-market zealots. In fact, a new administration could enforce new global warming regulations with common sense, focusing on large emitters of greenhouse gases to achieve reasonable reductions while spurring trillions of dollars worth of economic growth and green-collar jobs.
Sussman is now the EPA Senior Policy Counsel.
Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), chair of the House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, responds:
This finding will officially end the era of denial on global warming. Instead of allowing political interference in scientific and legal decisions, as was the case in the previous administration, the Obama administration is letting the sun shine in on the dangerous realities of global warming.