Barrasso: Stop the EPA from regulating climate change through the Clean Air Act
‘The Clean Air Act requires that any sources that emit more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide a year capture the emissions. The threshold is so low that not only would power plants and refineries be required to capture but also farms, rural schools and hospitals.’
by Opinion piece by John Barrasso, U.S. Senator, M.D.
May 24, 2010
President Barack Obama recently delivered another speech about his jobs agenda. He said government can "create the conditions for small businesses to grow and thrive and hire more workers." His administration, he said, is working to "knock down the barriers that prevent small-business owners from getting loans or investing in the future."
With all due respect, it’s hard to take his words seriously.
Instead of knocking down bureaucratic barriers, this administration has thrown up more walls. The president has devoted his first 16 months in office to passing legislation that creates more red tape and makes it harder for businesses to create new jobs.
If this is help, Americans don’t want it. They just want Washington to get out of the way.
Since the beginning of his administration, this president has promoted legislation that’s either wasteful (see stimulus), ineffective (see stimulus) or dangerous (see health care and cap and trade).
Fortunately, members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle believe that Obama’s cap-and-trade bill should not become law. The American people have made it clear that they do not support legislation that will increase their energy bills and kill more jobs in our country.
Unfortunately, the president and members of his administration have tuned out the American people. They’ve decided that Washington knows best. Since Congress isn’t likely to pass cap and trade, the administration is now planning to implement it by enacting more regulations.
The Environmental Protection Agency is now attempting to use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide. The Clean Air Act was originally written to regulate traditional air pollutants — not something ever present in the air.
As now written, the Clean Air Act requires that any sources that emit more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide a year capture the emissions. The threshold is so low that not only would power plants and refineries be required to capture but also farms, rural schools and hospitals.
The EPA is planning to start with larger sources. This legally questionable approach will not stand up to court challenges by litigious activist groups. Over time, the EPA will end up regulating any sources that emit more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide a year.
Declaring carbon dioxide — a byproduct of human existence — a dangerous pollutant would expose every aspect of American life to additional costs and EPA regulation.
It would impose a massive, backdoor energy tax on families and businesses. It would trigger a flood of new regulations and judicial challenges that would affect up to 1.2 million farms, nursing homes, hospitals, commercial buildings and other small businesses.
Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, for example, would require all stationary sources that emit more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide — a threshold that catches even small emitters — to apply for "prevention of significant deterioration" permits for new construction or modifications.
The typical PSD permit costs an applicant approximately $125,000, according to the EPA’s own estimate, and takes roughly 866 hours to obtain. If America’s small businesses are forced to operate under these sorts of conditions, it will crush them.
By June 7, the Senate has a chance to pass a resolution that would stop the EPA from regulating climate change through the Clean Air Act.
The Obama administration’s command-and-control approach would have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy. The EPA’s regulations would drive up the costs of red, white and blue energy — the kind of energy that fuels our cars, homes and businesses.
The agriculture sector and rural residents would be especially vulnerable to the EPA’s attempt to regulate climate change. Farmers and ranchers, in particular, oppose carbon regulation because they know it can hurt their businesses and make them less competitive internationally.
Costs created by carbon regulation would be passed down the supply chain from processors to producers to, ultimately, consumers. Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers in other countries would not face carbon regulation.
If we allow the EPA to follow through on using the Clean Air Act to regulate climate change, Washington bureaucrats will have even more control over Americans and their businesses.
The Senate now has an opportunity to make the Obama administration live up to its promise to the American people. The coming vote can ensure that Washington truly knocks down the barriers that prevent small-business owners from getting loans or investing in the future.
Senator Barrasso is the only Republican member of both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works Committees.