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Obama to Regulate CO2 as a Pollutant

In a clean break with Bush Administration policy and a clear step away from corporate-coziness, the Obama Administration has announced that they will regulate CO2 as a pollutant. Here is an excerpt from the BBC’s coverage.

The US government is to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, having decided that it and five other greenhouse gases may endanger human health and well-being.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the move following a review of the scientific evidence. The decision marks a major change from the Bush presidency, when the EPA argued it could not regulate CO2 because the gas was not a pollutant. Developing countries have asked for the US to show leadership on climate. Many are not prepared to curtail their own emissions without firm indications that the US is willing to make significant reductions. Carbon-cutting legislation is being proposed in Congress, but the EPA decision – known as an “endangerment finding” – will allow the agency to mandate some cuts without waiting for the draft bills to become law. “This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations,” said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. “Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low-carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation; and… the solution is one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”
Read the full article here. And here’s our own Jonathan‘s “Policy Wonk Framing” of the decision:
The move is probably more than it appears on the surface. It’s not just the EPA acting as it should (and should have done years ago). It also puts pressure on Congress and on industry with regard to climate legislation. It means that industry and the Republicans can’t hope to stall carbon restrictions indefinitely. They have to accept that restrictions are going to be implemented in the relatively near term. If they want to have influence on how it happens and how severe the restrictions will be, they now have a strong incentive to work with the Democrats to pass legislation that overrides any EPA devised plan, and imposes a Congressionally mandated plan. This puts the Democrats in more of the driver’s seat, since Republican obstructionism means the EPA goes ahead any ole way it wants to. If the Republicans want to have any impact, they have to work in more of a partnership with the Democrats. That doesn’t mean that Congress will give us something good, just that the odds that Congress passes climate legislation this year are now much higher, and it probably also means that what comes out of Congress will be at least a little bit better than it would have without the EPA move.
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