About that EPA Regulatory Authority

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Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson

Ted suggests that I might want to start taking my cues from Katherine Weymouth and offer some cheerier stories:

Also, Matt, I think *your* readers might appreciate some cheerier stories. My suggestions:

“Relax: The EPA has Got This!”

“Getting Around the U.S. Senate: Unitary Executive Theory for Progressives”

Heart-warming pictures of Bo. Also.

This seems like as good a time as mention to mention that yesterday Dave Roberts wrote up a good primer on the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority under the Clean Air Act to try to tackle climate change. The bottom line:

But no one should be under any illusions. The NSR/PSD/BACT approach is grossly suboptimal for the job that needs doing. It might have the intended effect—killing coal plants—but there’s potential for unintended effects as well, including substantial political blowback.

The key thing, I think, is that it’s hard to see this being politically sustainable. Given the right circumstances, this can be a feature rather than a bug. If political conditions are such that congress doesn’t want to take about climate change, deploying a little EPA regulatory authority will help focus minds and get people focused on the issue again. Alternatively, if political conditions are such that congress is close to enacting a climate change bill you could see deploying a little EPA regulatory authority pushing it over the edge. But if the issue is that the climate fight has just been waged and lost decisively in congress, then it’s hard for me to see how EPA regulation really offers a viable alternative since the political blowback would likely be intense.