Keep the EPA Strong on Carbon Emissions

Congress should vote no on Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) resolution of disapproval (S.J. Res 26), which would limit the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from businesses such as oil companies. Pro or con?

Pro: Polluters Need Oversight

I find it surprising that Senator Murkowski is moving forward with this resolution now—even as oil continues to devastate the Gulf of Mexico.

Not only could the resolution prolong our oil addiction by delaying America’s shift to cleaner energy, but it will also undermine one of the most effective tools for holding polluters accountable: the Clean Air Act.

Now is not the time to have faith in polluters’ ability to police themselves.

Yet despite all of BP’s (BP) broken promises about safety measures and cleanup efforts, Senator Murkowski thinks we should trust polluters to handle the problem of global warming, too. In fact, her resolution would void recent EPA efforts to reduce pollution, including new standards to cut carbon emissions and improve fuel efficiency for new cars, SUVs, and light trucks—standards that will save billions of gallons of gasoline.

Murkowski’s resolution would knock the EPA rules out of the picture. And that means consumers will buy 19 billion gallons of gasoline and spend around $57 billion at the pump that they wouldn’t have to if the EPA retained its authority.

Instead of rejecting a measure that will save consumers money, senators should pass clean energy and climate legislation that retains the EPA’s ability to reduce pollution. This is the most effective way to cut pollution, protect our oceans, and reduce our dependence on oil.

Con: Don’t Rewrite the Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act (CAA) is unsuited for regulation of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and the EPA’s current rush to create new requirements on facilities’ GHGs only compounds the problem. Furthermore, because the EPA is essentially rewriting the CAA in an attempt to delay permitting millions of GHG sources, which only Congress can do, this action is likely illegal.

The EPA’s proposed solution to "tailor" the CAA does not solve the problem. While the tailoring rule delays the time when big-box stores, churches, malls, office buildings, and vast numbers of other facilities would fall under the intrusive, costly scope of the rule, it would not protect businesses from similarly stringent state GHG rules.

In fact, the actions companies would have to take to limit their GHG emissions and stay in business—or the cost of those actions—are unknown and yet to be defined by the EPA or the states. As a result, businesspeople are faced with a type of double jeopardy that threatens to increase sharply the cost of doing business and simultaneously delays job-creating investments needed to breathe life into our slowly recovering economy.

API supports Senator Lisa Murkowski’s resolution of disapproval (S.J. Res 26) to prevent the EPA from establishing new national energy policy via regulations under the CAA, which was not designed to address GHGs. We urge the Senate to stop the EPA from implementing these GHG regulations, which could result in permits being delayed or blocked for business operations and expansions, killing jobs and hurting our economic recovery.

Opinions and conclusions expressed in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or Bloomberg LP.

Reader Comments

WinstonC

API and its associates care far more about their profits (short-term costs) than about the long term health of the planet and species. If Big Oil had the slightest view toward posterity, they would have embraced alternative energy research in a meaningful way after the Oil Embargo of the 1970s.

It is clear from the last administration's utter disregard for law, ethics, or governance in their back-room formulation of national energy policy, in conjunction with Big Oil et al,. that they would short-circuit the entire planet if it would bring a few quarters of profit. The latest disaster with BP, in which API and its ilk run about screaming that "...such a thing has never happened--how were we to know?" is disingenuous, and proof of their willingness to distort the truth. The fact is, that while they rape our wallets at the pump, they are the biggest cheapskates on the planet. They care not who they kill, ruin, or poison, and it is time for them to shut up and start redeveloping the way they do business.
Stay out of the CCA, you lot, or the citizens of this country will pull you down.

Econguy

The piecemeal policy approach is killing the country. This EPA authority is not independent from OMB and CBO debt projections because lower growth induced by EPA regulation of the other half of the economy not governed by health care reform controls will limit debt to income ratios and export competitveness. Has Bernanke factored this in? The American people deserve what they get if they don't turn out in mass in November with 90 plus percent voter turnout.

Strategery

The EPA should not be able to regulate carbon dioxide. It is not a pollutant by traditional definitions. In addition, the EPA is a textbook example of bureaucracy. I live in an area that, up until recently, complied with air quality regulations. Then, the EPA lowered the arbitrary limit for ozone. Much of the ozone is caused by pollution from wildfires, which no one can do anything about, or it is caused by interstate traffic local leaders cannot control (vehicle emission testing). Now, local leaders are scrambling to comply with the new limit or risk a loss of highway dollars--which is counter productive because congested highways will make the situation worse. We need to pass a law saying that the EPA cannot regulate CO2. Otherwise, the small remaining industry in the USA will leave once they are faced with arbitrary limits, fines, and other bureaucracy.

Anonymous

EPA will manage the rise of structural poverty in the nation by effectively undermining the advantages of urban centers, corridors, and all of the massive public investments in infrastructure. This is another example of policy direction based on past perceptions of wealth of the nation and more important the growth potential for wealth creation.

Matthew D Herrmann

I have yet to see an EPA regulation slow the economy or limit the creation of jobs. Second, wouldn't the EPA be the agency of choice to police the emission of greenhouse gas? It doesn't make economic sense to create a new government agency, and it doesn't make sense, period, to piecemeal the authority out to several different groups. Unless you want a weakened government organization.

Furthermore, many businesses have already started reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Wal-Mart has done so, and UPS invested millions to develop a GPS program that saves gasoline, which in turn saves money and reduces emissions.

The API represents those industries that stand to lose billions to trillions of dollars if clean technology and fuels take off. The economic double speak is code for "we'll lose money! Please don't do the right thing!"

Last, it would seem to me, that allowing a single government organization to regulate emissions on a national level is hardly "piecemeal" and might actually prove effective. An effective government organization, efficiently using tax dollars? Wouldn't that be a sight to see!

Camal

It has come the time, that someone has to regulate the amount of damage that is being done to the environment. As for a lesson, huge corporations have been given sold power to exploit the environment, for their own benefit and enrichment. If we do not start regulating the outcome these companies have in the enviroment, as we all know the damages to it are larger and more threatening, as years go by. We can all come up with excuses for how this will affect the economy, and (of course it will) but the time has come for us to learn the new way of not depending on energy sources that kill us. This may serve as a sacrifice for a better future. I believe it is for the better having an independent regulator of GHG!.

Strategery

Matthew D Herrmann, compare the American industry of today with the industry we had in the middle of the 20th century. Compare real wages too. The USA was the unquestioned industrial leader. Now, we are importing steel beams to rebuild the WTC. Wal-Mart has no interest in saving the environment. In fact, their business model is destructive. All companies look to cut costs, and when doing so, they usually reduce energy consumption too. Even better, they can spin their actions into a green advertising campaign. Wal-Mart is not cutting CO2 emissions for the sake of cutting CO2; it is a byproduct of cutting costs. You want a single regulator for CO2? Are you suggesting a "carbon police"? Keep in mind, every human activity generates CO2. The government, and the banks and corporations that control it, would love to tax and regulate every aspect of your life under the guise of reducing CO2. Do you want freedom or fascism?

GerryBob

The EPA directly contributes to disasters: Current oil disaster in the Gulf and the Hyman fire in Colorado. In both cases the EPA stopped efforts to limit loss, and put up roadblocks and red tape. The EPA is part of what is very wrong with current America! The EPA is obstructionists! I am sure there are more examples. Do not put them in regulatory control of life-giving carbon emissions!

hoopr

I once saw a statistic that 84% of home buyers choose the first real estate agent they contact. This means one of two things. Either most people are choosing wisely the first time, or they’re just rushing into things

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