Big Business and the EPA

| Sun Dec. 6, 2009 11:06 PM PST

In 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases unless "it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change."  But of course, greenhouse gases do contribute to climate change, and the EPA is now close to finalizing a finding that says exactly that.  Big business is not happy:

An "endangerment" finding by the Environmental Protection Agency could pave the way for the government to require businesses that emit carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to make costly changes in machinery to reduce emissions — even if Congress doesn't pass pending climate-change legislation.....Many business groups are opposed to EPA efforts to curb a gas as ubiquitous as carbon dioxide.

An EPA endangerment finding "could result in a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project," U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said in a statement....EPA action won't do much to combat climate change, and "is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy," said the National Association of Manufacturers....Dan Riedinger, spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, a power-industry trade group, said the EPA would be less likely than Congress to come up with an "economywide approach" to regulating emissions.

Well, these guys are right about one thing: the Clean Air Act is pretty poorly suited to regulating CO2.  Cap-and-trade legislation designed specifically to address greenhouse gases would be much more efficient, much more predictable, and much less painful all the way around.

But the longer that congressional Republican dawdle and obstruct, the more likely it is that the EPA will end up doing something by default.  So here's some advice for corporate America: if you don't like this, then get off your asses and start pressuring your friends in the GOP to support a cap-and-trade bill that would preempt the EPA and put in place more predictable rules.  After all, I understand that corporate interests have a certain amount of sway with the Republican Party.  Right?

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