Friday, June 11, 2010


Future generations will wonder in bemused amusement that the early twenty-first century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age-- Richard S. Lindzen, MIT physicist, 2007

Ready to lead us in a roll-back of the industrial age is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), thanks to the Supreme Court decision that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant” harmful to human health and welfare, and therefore can be regulated under the Clean Air Act by the EPA.

Letting no crisis go to waste, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced, at the opening of the Copenhagen Conference, EPA’s “endangerment finding”—that CO2, carbon dioxide, is a danger to human health. The Conference was to hold polluting countries, responsible for global-warming, to commit to decreasing their use of energy and, thereby, their carbon-dioxide emissions.

The objection is not to CO2’s direct health effects—after all, humans and plants provide it and use it—but to high concentrations of it, which “must” come from human emissions. (Besides CO2, the other pollutants named by the Court are nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.)

In 83 percent of production, energy is involved, and CO2 is in all energy. Decreasing the quantity of energy means decreasing production, halting growth, raising prices, decreasing jobs, and decreasing everything produced. Factories annually emitting over 25,000 tons (it can be lowered) of greenhouse gases would be initially affected by EPA regulations. Add EPA’s commitment, the challenge to decrease CO2 for climate change.

To assist, EPA has been given a huge 37-percent increase in its budget, already over $10 billion. But EPA can use it. In 2009 EPA had more “Rules in the Pipeline Expected to Cost More than $100 Million Annually” than any other federal department or agency except the Department of Health and Human Services.

And EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has the experience. For 16 years, she headed Superfund, where, in the opinion of the medical director of the American Council on Science and Health, she developed “some of the most unscientific, wasteful and dangerous regulations.” Superfund was (is) to clean up and reduce the risk of toxic-waste sites.

Instead of EPA, Congress could do the regulating of CO2 emissions. One way is through Cap-and-Trade regulations (or “Cap and Tax,” as The Wall Street Journal editorial calls them). A bill passed the House narrowly but has not been brought up in the Senate. Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry have another bill they are waiting to pass to the Senate. Lisa Jackson estimates it will cost each family an average of $111 yearly. EPA estimates are generally on the low side. Another estimate puts it at $50 billion yearly.

The cost will be greater if EPA rather than if Congress does the regulating. By all accounts, even that of Administrator Jackson, it would be better if the Congress were to do the regulating, because it has available to it more means for regulating than has the EPA, including more efficient and effective technological innovations. But improvements in technology are barred from use by EPA. It is confined to ordering the best emissions technology available at the moment.

Will EPA’s regulations abide by science? Initially, Lisa Jackson said she would rule according to “public confusion and anxiety” over risks. In her confirmation hearing, she said, “I will administer with science as my guide.”

If so, it will be a nice change, for the evidence is that EPA is weak on science. In 1992, EPA’s independent Science Advisory Board warned that “EPA should be a source of unbiased scientific information” but is not. In 1999, 13 EPA scientists complained in a letter to the Washington Times that EPA’s science is polluted.

More recently, the EPA has suppressed the evaluation of the EPA endangerment report by Alan Carlin and John Davidson, EPA scientists. They show that EPA’s report is not science, but politics. EPA has not done its own evaluation of global warming but has relied mostly on the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) study. According to Power Line’s contribution, “Obama’s EPA Quashes Climate Change Science,” the UN, knowing that current scientific research is believed to disprove the anthropogenic global warming theory, ordered “that no recent research be considered in the IPCC report.”

Carlin and Davidson were told by their EPA supervisor in an e-mail that “your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.” The suppressed report and e-mail were distributed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Virginia, Texas, and Alabama, and a number of associations have sued the EPA to force it to substantiate its endangerment finding that CO2 is harmful to human health. and welfare. Environmental organizations and others are seeking to join on the other side.

If, by 2050, CO2 is 83 percent below what it was in 2005, which is President Obama’s goal, there will be only enough energy for the 1910 population of 92 million, but the population will then be 420 million, observed George Will.

Cap and Trade, Copenhagen Cooperation, and EPA regulations, are three “step-sisters” signaling the beginning of the end of the industrial age. Surely a rational country can find a better way of dealing with harmful policies and exposed hoaxes.

By Natlie Sirkin
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