Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is leading the bipartisan effort with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to craft comprehensive climate legislation that can overcome a Senate filibuster. “The green economy is coming,” Graham said when he announced the partnership with Kerry and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) last November, explaining that he was “convinced with my colleagues that controlling carbon pollution is good business.” However, Graham is also co-sponsoring the effort by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.) to reverse the scientific finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that global warming pollution endangers public health and welfare. Speaking to business and environmental leaders Monday in Columbia, S.C., Graham declared that he wants “to stop the EPA from regulating carbon,” which would be “a disaster for every state:”
This administration is not going to back off. They are going to regulate carbon. If Congress doesn’t get involved, it’s going to be a disaster for this state and it’s going to be a disaster for every state.
The Supreme Court has allowed the regulation of carbon through the Clean Air Act. The question is, is Congress going to be smart enough to stop it? I want to stop the EPA from regulating carbon and allow elected officials to come up with a statutory scheme that not only cleans up the air, it creates jobs instead of losing jobs and gets this country on the path to energy independence.
Graham’s assertion that Clean Air Act regulation of global warming pollution would be a disaster is baseless. The Clean Air Act has been such a successful piece of legislation that the coal industry front group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the oil-funded think tank American Enterprise Institute tout its track record of cleaning up our air while keeping our economy strong. The myth that environmental protection and economic growth are incompatible has been repeatedly debunked, in theory and practice. A healthy economy thrives on a strong framework of rules.
The Clean Air Act global warming rules for mobile sources — the joint EPA-Department of Transportation greenhouse gas tailpipe standards — have been embraced by environmentalists and the auto industry alike, after years of litigation and astroturf campaigns claiming that such regulation would destroy Detroit. It was the decay of regulation that brought the American auto industry to its knees: the lack of competitive standards for domestic carmakers and the lack of financial regulation that allowed Wall Street to blow up the American economy.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has acceded to the unfounded attacks on the Clean Air Act by delaying and weakening rules for stationary greenhouse sources that were first proposed by the EPA under the Bush administration, even as politicians promote a fear campaign that “churches, schools, restaurants, and even large homes could fall under new federal regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gases.”
The traditional tools of the Clean Air Act must be complemented by a comprehensive redirection of national energy policy if we are to confront the increasing disaster of climate change. But the idea that Congress should pass climate legislation to prevent the specter of the mean nasty EPA Carbon Cops — as Koch Industries’ Americans for Prosperity is selling in Arkansas right now — is, quite simply, toxic.