The economic harms of carbon cap-and-trade policies are so well established that even a state as reliably leftist as California has never been able to pass a plan through their legislature. Instead, environmentalists in the Golden State have relied on the California Air Resources Board (CARB), whose appointed governing board is democratically unaccountable, to develop and impose carbon regulations by bureaucratic fiat. And this past December, much to the delight of many environmentalists, CARB passed the first carbon cap-and-trade scheme in the United States. Everything looked ready to go … until a San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a ruling, just made public last week, that, if made final, would stop CARB from implementing its plan. The plaintiffs in the suit? The Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment.
So why is a group called the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment suing to stop carbon cap and trade? The New York Times reports: “Poor communities, particularly in Southern California, have been leery of market-based systems of pollution control, believing that industries nearby would be able to pay for extra pollution allowances and continue to send dangerous chemicals into their neighborhoods.” And what is this “dangerous” pollutant the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment says will be pumped into their neighborhoods? Carbon dioxide. The same chemical compound that you and I are exhaling right now.
The Times goes on to report that “no one maintains that carbon dioxide is a hazardous pollutant dangerous to local communities.” Oh, but they have. The Obama Administration’s own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant that poses a “danger to public health and welfare.” As a result EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is moving ahead with plans to regulate carbon as a “pollutant” under authority granted her by the Clean Air Act.
Of course, the Clean Air Act was never meant to give the EPA the power to regulate a substance as ubiquitous as carbon dioxide. This quickly becomes obvious when looking at the levels of “pollution” that the Clean Air Act would mandate the EPA to regulate. When it was passed, the Clean Air Act mandated that the EPA must regulate sources of real pollutants (like acrylic acid, chlorine, and benzene) that emitted 100 or 250 tons or more of a pollutant per year. Only truly industrial-sized outfits came under these regulations. But carbon dioxide is much more common. The 100-ton limit will ensnare schools, farms, restaurants, hospitals, apartment complexes, churches, and anything with a motor—from motor vehicles to lawnmowers, jet skis, and leaf blowers. If you own any of these items or eat, sleep, learn, or pray in any of these establishments, you are about to become very familiar with EPA regulators.
The Obama EPA believes they can unilaterally rewrite the Clean Air Act’s pollution thresholds to minimize the economic pain their rules will create. This is the same Obama Administration that thinks Obamacare is constitutional. The Obama EPA will get sued over their carbon regulations, and they will lose. But that does not mean that Congress should sit idly by while the Obama EPA wreaks havoc on our tentatively recovering economy. They have authority under the Congressional Review Act to stop Lisa Jackson in her tracks.
California will undoubtedly find a way around the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment lawsuit against cap and trade. CARB’s job-killing regulations will eventually go into effect, shooting California’s already above-the-national-average unemployment even higher. But it is not too late for the rest of the nation. The Obama EPA can be stopped.