Debate would expose myths behind bill

Freedom New Mexico

A fter his climate agenda was dealt a major setback by Republican victories in November, President Barack Obama said, “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way.” Now his administration has announced its intention to skin the cat another way, despite questionable underlying science and certain economic harm.

Legislative efforts to impose costly cap-and-trade restrictions on greenhouse gases, ostensibly to curb global warming, already had ground to a halt in the Democratic-controlled Congress before November’s balloting. After the election, the president acknowledged his preferred method to reduce emissions would be dead on arrival in the new Congress, where Republicans will have control of the House and have picked up six seats in the Senate.

But last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it will regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries next year rather than await for enabling law.

Who needs Congress if the administration can accomplish the same thing by fiat?

There’s a reason such specific regulations aren’t approved by legislative bodies. Their alleged effectiveness and real costs would have to be defended in open debate by representatives answerable to voters.

There’s also a reason cap-and-trade couldn’t pass even the Democratic-controlled Congress this year. As the New York Times recently acknowledged, the Obama administration scaled back its ambitions after climate legislation died in the Senate, challengers “mounted a vigorous assault on the science of climate change” and polls showed the public “more doubtful about the science.”

Those are all good reasons to shelve this bad idea, even before considering the economic harm likely to result from the proposed drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“If the regulations actually force companies to make meaningful emission reductions, they will drive up energy costs and be very expensive,” observed Jeffrey R. Holmstead, who headed the EPA’s air and radiation office under President George W. Bush and now represents utilities and other greenhouse emitters that would be affected.

But the EPA now intends to fashion de facto taxes and impose strict regulations that will be almost impervious to public criticism. Almost.

Republicans wasted no time last week announcing they will oppose the administrative implementation of what couldn’t pass Congress. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, expected to become chairman next month of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said, “There are serious questions about EPA’s decision to move forward with these job-killing regulations that will usurp power from states, violating the principles of federalism that are the backbone of the Clean Air Act.”

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, foreshadowed the battle. “I think we ought to start with a two-year pause” in upcoming regulations, said Simpson, who is expected to head a House panel controlling the EPA’s budget.

We look forward to the open debate, which will be an opportunity to stem the frantic rush to solve the global warming nonproblem, while exposing the shaky science behind climate alarmism and informing the public of its actual costs.