On the very first day of 2009, the L. A. Times ran a story that already seems a lock to win the year’s dumbest headline award. And dumbest subhead: “Recent moves by lame-duck officials, though frustrating to environmentalists, offer the president-elect time and political cover to deliberately craft rules on emissions, energy lobbyists say.”

Yes, the LAT thinks that accelerating new coal plant construction, greenhouse-gas emissions, and the wanton destruction of the planet’s livability will give Obama “breathing room to fight global warming.”

You might just as well argue that waterboarding gives its victims “breathing room” — after all, right after you have been waterboarded, you breathe like you have never breathed before, desperately gasping for air.

And that’s what eight years of Bush have left us. We are, as the Hadley Center explained last month, desperately fighting to save the planet from “catastrophic” 5-7 degree C warming by 2100, but now with much less time, much higher global emissions, and a lost decade of inefficient, polluting infrastructure built at a cost of many trillions of dollars — and now on top of that we have a bunch of a last-minute destructive regulations:

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[The Bush administration] barred the Environmental Protection Agency from considering the effects of global warming on protected species. And, more broadly, it excluded carbon dioxide from a list of pollutants that the EPA regulates under the Clean Air Act …

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson issued a memo in late December — as part of a review for a proposed coal-fired power plant expansion in Utah — that excludes carbon dioxide from the list of pollutants the government must regulate under the Clean Air Act when approving construction projects.

What a gift that all was to the planet and to the incoming Obama administration.

I’m sure we can all be thankful to the Bush administration for this breathing room. Cough, cough, gasp, gasp.

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This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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