April 12, 2010
EPA choking freedom
FROM- OC Register
"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined." –
We've previously suggested what to say to a global warming zealot (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/%20-234092--.html), and even what to say to California's warmist-in-chief, Arnold Schwarzenegger (http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/%20-236562--.html).
Unfortunately, the ultimate discussion on global warming may require talking to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you thought zealots and celebrities-turned-politicians could be difficult to persuade, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Those who would remake the economy in their own image and conform your lifestyle to their vision of a globally cooler utopia are advancing their quasiholy mission with the heavy hand of the unaccountable, unelected bureaucracy at the EPA.
Call it government by, of and for the bureaucracy. Where's James Madison when we need him?
There's nothing as insulated, nothing as isolated, nothing as arrogant as a federal bureaucracy. Think this thought: "I'd like to have a reasonable discussion with someone who will consider my point of view." Now think: "IRS. FBI. Homeland Security." Ouch. The EPA epitomizes the aloof, authoritarian worst of all federal bureaucracies. Don't expect a warm reception.
Several key decisions begin this spring, not the least of which is the beginning of EPA enforcement. With this in mind, here are some EPA talking points, in case you're able to get a word in edge-wise:
We start with the understanding that this nation's founders never intended a massive government bureaucracy to dictate how Americans must live, what they can and cannot consume or manufacture, let alone how much of the stuff they exhale may legally be emitted. The EPA begins with the assumption that we've got all of this 100 percent wrong.
Change of venue
Congress, bless its misguided hearts, at least is a representative body held accountable by voters. That's why Congress, once hell-bent on shoving down our throats an economy-killing, freedom-squashing carbon cap-and-trade law, has backed off. Politicians still can be cowed by public outrage. That's also why global warming alarmists shifted the venue from the comparatively responsive Congress to the utterly insulated EPA. Faceless bureaucrats don't stand for election.
Once upon a time this overbearing regulatory agency restricted its intrusions to matters that pretty much everyone agreed needed attention. Air pollution was a serious problem not long ago. It's debatable whether the might of the federal government was the only, let alone the best, solution. But at least real pollution was a real problem. The EPA has changed that game, perhaps forever, by declaring CO2 to be a harmful pollutant that must be regulated.
The excuse the EPA uses to exert its regulatory version of martial law over everyday activities is that the globe allegedly is dangerously warming, and manmade greenhouse gas emissions are to blame. Nevermind, that temperatures are, at most, flat over the past 15 years. The only place a cause-and-effect relationship exists between rising greenhouse gases and rising global temperatures is in manmade computer models. Looking beyond the problem of garbage in and garbage out, history tells us a quite different story. As for blaming mankind for rising temperatures, there were far fewer people and absolutely no smokestacks or Hummers centuries ago when temperatures were higher and CO2 levels much higher.
Building on sand
The EPA, incapable of distinguishing pollutants from harmless air, based its war on global warming on findings of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a governmental body, not a scientific body. The IPCC drew on scientific studies, except for those it excluded. IPCC hand-picked representatives, some of them scientists, summarized the findings, selectively including and excluding from the already-screened conclusions. The IPCC came up with an unsurprisingly political document drawn from sometimes one-sided, other times flatly flawed, research, while ignoring inconvenient contrary evidence. Since last year, there's been news aplenty about the IPCC report's frauds and mistakes. Good enough for government work, apparently.
The EPA's declaration of CO2 as a pollutant ignores its amply demonstrated benefits. Even if manmade emissions did cause higher temperatures, the consequences are likely beneficial not dire. The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change is a network of scientists not funded by governments that stand to gain control. It was established to examine the same climate data used by the U.N.'s panel. But the nongovernmental panel reached "the opposite conclusion – namely, that natural causes are very likely" responsible for whatever changes have occurred in global temperatures. Even so, its conclusion was: "[T]he net effect of continued warming and rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will be beneficial to humans, plants and wildlife."
Arbitrariness on steroids
The 1970 Clean Air Act, which was improperly invoked to regulate CO2, is explicit in determining the level at which atmospheric pollutants trigger mandatory government regulation. As a result of extending Clean Air Act authority to CO2, 41,900 previously unregulated small entities will require preconstruction permits, and 6.1 million previously unregulated small entities will need operating permits. It's impossible for the feds to clamp down on every car, tractor, lawnmower, commercial kitchen or other mom-and-pop establishment. So here's what will happen: Bureaucrats arbitrarily will decide where to draw the line. A line drawn today doesn't mean it won't be redrawn tomorrow. Authority creep is inevitable, except, of course, in the cases of the well-connected, who game the system or grease the skids. Instead of quoting Madison, we should quote George Orwell: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
'It's too late' defense
It can be argued that the EPA is acting rashly based on wrong-headed legal interpretations, and justified this with rigged research with a blind eye to contrary evidence. It might be argued that the EPA should hold off regulating until underlying scientific claims can be verified. Don't hold your breath. "It is impossible to independently test or verify (England's Climate Research Unit's) calculations because raw temperature data sets have been lost or destroyed," noted Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, who has sued to block the EPA diktats.
Fix is in
The EPA's power grab officially began at the end of March with press releases declaring the agency's "final decision" that issuing "construction and operating permit requirements for the largest emitting facilities will begin." Today, the "largest." Tomorrow "the not-so-large?" The next day, who knows? At this rate you might want to hold your breath. Exhaling soon may be an emission law violation.
Nearly last ditch
Congress will have a chance this spring to reassert authority over the bureaucracy when it considers reining in the EPA. A pending resolution by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, would veto the EPA's "endangerment finding" that declared CO2 to be a harmful pollutant. Stay tuned.
The EPA's unprecedented claim to sovereignty over things that move and many that remain stationary is being challenged in court by no fewer than 15 states' attorneys general, and private plaintiffs, including 500 scientists, who dispute the IPCC's science. The nut of the challenges is that the government exceeded its authority in declaring CO2 a harmful pollutant, and that underlying science is fatally flawed.
We're usually optimistic, but the short-term outlook is bleak, and the long-term is bleaker yet – unless someone derails the high-speed, runaway EPA. Otherwise, James Madison's homeland and yours is in for a stormy climate of arbitrary bureaucrats picking and choosing winners and losers, allowing you less and less to say about it as the government expands its control over American life even further.