Will We Have Neither Climate Change Legislation Nor Regulation?

Last month, I noted with some trepidation that EPA Administrator Jackson had stated that "I don’t believe this is an either-or proposition," referring to the possibility that there could be both climate legislation and EPA regulation of GHGs under existing EPA authority. Today, it’s looking more like a neither-nor proposition.

First, with respect to the prospects for climate change legislation, Senator Gregg was quoted in ClimateWire as saying that “the chance of a global warming law passing this year was ‘zero to negative 10 percent.’" Whether Senator Gregg has the odds pegged exactly right, legislation certainly seems less likely than was thought even a month ago, as health care legislation struggles and Scott Brown (R. Mass.) takes office.

At the same time, Senator Murkowski is moving forward with a resolution to disapprove EPA’s endangerment finding, in order to preclude EPA regulation under existing authority. While binding Congressional action to preclude EPA regulation is unlikely, because it would require approval by President Obama, Senate action does not appear out of the question at this point, given that Senator Murkowski has obtained three Democratic co-sponsors of the resolution, Senators Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). A Senate vote in favor might not preclude EPA regulation without House and Presidential concurrence, but it’s hard to see how such a vote wouldn’t be a further black eye for the administration.

The situation certainly seems to warrant ClimateWire’s lede that “Climate chaos reigned on Capitol Hill yesterday.” Unfortunately, as I have noted previously, uncertainty is not really to anyone’s benefit. Does anyone doubt that, in the longer run, there will be some kind of climate regulation in the U.S.? How are regulated entities supposed to do cost-effective planning for such regulation in the face of this kind of uncertainty?

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