Environmental Protection Agency
Byrd's Late Coal Conversion
June 29, 2010
I didn't get a chance to mention this yesterday, but Robert Byrd's death definitely jumbles the political landscape for climate/energy legislation—though maybe not in the way most people would assume. For a long time, Byrd had been a staunch coal guy (it's West Virginia, after all) who was firmly opposed to doing anything about global warming.
Cap And Trade And Systemic Failure
June 28, 2010
Politico details the Republican turn against cap and trade: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), under pressure back home from a conservative primary challenger, hasn’t come anywhere close to the climate issue that was once a key component of his “maverick” credentials. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who joined Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) on cap-and-trade legislation in 2008, challenged the Obama administration earlier this month by forcing a floor vote that would have removed EPA’s authority to write its own carbon rules. Sen.
Leaving Global Warming To The Bureaucrats
June 21, 2010
In his TRB column this week, Jon Chait argues that EPA regulation is the best option left for tackling global warming, given the deadlock in the Senate. True, relying on the EPA's regulatory tools won't be the most elegant or efficient way of reducing greenhouse gases—a market-based cap-and-trade system would be far more flexible. But Senate conservatives are dead-set on blocking the elegant and efficient solution.
June 21, 2010
In Obama’s June 15th Oval Office speech on the oil spill, he railed against a “failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility—a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.” Obama was getting at a real problem. As economic historian Edward Balleisen points out, the trend over the past half century has not been less regulation per se, but a greater acceptance of “self-regulation,” whereby industry funds government oversight, and government outsources oversight to industry.
June 21, 2010
Five years ago, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham joined a handful of senators traveling to the Yukon territory to view firsthand the effects of climate change. Witnessing melting ice caps and permafrost, and Inuit communities struggling to cope with a transforming environment, Graham was “moved.” “Climate change is different when you come here, because you see the faces of people experiencing it,” he said. In the following years, he asserted that “climate change is real” and promoted a cap-and-trade bill in the Senate. Today, Graham is sprinting in the other direction.
All Cost, No Benefit Is No Way To Do An Analysis
June 17, 2010
According to an EPA analysis released Monday, the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill—also known as the American Power Act—would cost $146 per year per household. The only catch? The EPA didn't assess the benefits of the bill, particularly the fact that it's a necessary step for averting the worst effects of climate change. And that's unfortunate, because when you look at what the $146 per year would buy us, it's a pretty good deal. There will be costs to any carbon pricing mechanism.
It's hard to disagree with Ezra Klein about this, in reaction to Obama's oil-spill address last night: I'm just not sure how you do a response to climate change if you can't really say the words "climate change." And that's where we are right now: The actual problem we're trying to solve is politically, if not scientifically, controversial.
How Far Will Obama Push?
June 14, 2010
Tomorrow Obama will give a big primetime speech about the BP oil disaster, and he's expected to call for some sort of energy bill from Congress. But how far is he going to push? The New York Times reports that the administration is reining in its goals: President Obama has said that the time has come to put a price on carbon dioxide pollution and vowed to find the votes for it this year.
EPA Can Still Regulate CO2 (For Now)
June 10, 2010
So it looks like Lisa Murkowski's resolution to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases got shot down. The final vote was 47 to 53, with every Republican and six Dems voting in favor, including Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Mark Pryor, and Jay Rockefeller. The line from most of these folks is that they want Congress, rather than the EPA, to take the lead on global warming. Trouble is, many of them won't vote for a climate bill, either.
Murkowski's Showdown With The EPA
June 10, 2010
The Hill's Alex Bolton has a good preview of the Senate vote today on Lisa Murkowski's EPA resolution. This resolution, recall, would overturn the EPA's finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare. Not only would that stop the agency from cracking down on new coal plants and other greenhouse-gas emitters, but it would also scrap the new fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks that the Obama administration recently put in place.