In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, under the stipulations in the Clean Air Act. Last month, the EPA announced that it would phase-in the regulation over several years, starting with the largest sources of emissions. Many — mostly Republican — state legislators have recently introduced measures to block or limit the EPA’s authority to regulate the gases.
Reporting on the state action today on Fox News, host Megyn Kelly went a bit overboard on the EPA mandate and its plan to regulate auto emissions. “A laundry list of new regulations set to increase the cost of nearly everything in America,” she said, adding without any sense of irony: “And that may not be an exaggeration!” Taking the discussion a bit further into right field, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) actually argued that greenhouse gases are helpful:
KELLY: Back in 2007 the United States Supreme Court basically issued a decision saying it was ok for the EPA to start putting its nose into other peoples’ business in this way if it so desired. [...]
BENNETT: Greenhouse gas emissions have absolutely nothing whatever to do with clean air. CO2 does not add to pollutants or cause asthma or any of the other things you think of with dirty air. CO2 is actually a nutrient for plants and helps some parts of the continents grow more and have greater vegetation.
Of course the Court didn’t rule that the EPA could “start putting its nose into other peoples’ business” whenever it wants. The decisions specifically stated that the agency is legally required to regulate CO2. And in fact, the auto industry has actually applauded the EPA’s move to regulate car emissions. Apparently they don’t feel the mandate means “the cost of nearly everything in America” will increase, as Kelly claimed.
And Bennett’s claim — one that climate change deniers regularly make to prevent action on climate change — is simply wrong. In fact, new scientific research out this month “found that domes of increased carbon dioxide concentrations…cause local temperature increases that in turn increase the amounts of local air pollutants, raising concentrations of health-damaging ground-level ozone as well as particles in urban air.”