Today’s Climate Change Grab-Bag

It’s difficult to keep up with the various moves in Congress, attempting either to advance climate change legislation or to preclude EPA climate change regulation. On the advance side, E&E Daily had a very helpful summary earlier this week on the various issues affecting those senators that will need to be brought on board to reach 60 yes votes in the Senate. The identified issues include, not surprisingly: (1) coal, (2) nuclear power, (3) trade-sensitive industries, (4) oil and gas drilling, and (5) sector-specific limits. In what is probably a sidelight to the whole debate, Vernon Ehlers, a Republican, but the first research physicist elected to Congress, has taken climate change skeptics to task, saying that the scientists relied on by the skeptics are not “the experts in the field.”

On the preclusion side, Congress is being deluged with requests, including from some of its own members, to stop EPA from regulating GHG under existing regulatory authority. In the past week:

20 governors (if you include Puerto Rico and Guam) wrote to Congress opposing any EPA regulation of GHG under existing authority. The letter specifically says that they seek not just a delay, but preclusion of any regulation absent specific Congressional authorization.

98 industry groups, including such left-leaning groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the API, wrote to all senators in support of Senator Murkowski’s resolution to disapprove of EPA’s endangerment finding. The letter specifically asserts that EPA’s tailoring rule “has little legal foundation” – while at the same time criticizing for not going far enough to protect smaller sources of GHG.

Senator Levin wrote a letter to Senator Kerry which, while indicating support for climate change legislation, stated that industrial sources should not be regulated for at least 10 years

I still find it difficult to believe that the resolution disapproving the endangerment finding will be enacted. While Senator Murkowski recently referred to EPA’s efforts as a “backdoor” attempt to regulate GHG, EPA’s is doing pretty much what the Supreme Court ordered it to do, and it seems to be making every effort to minimize the economic impact of those regulations. I still agree that EPA regulation will be a mess, and it’s not obvious to me that the tailoring rule will survive legal challenge, but it’s difficult to see how EPA could be doing anything less than what it is doing in light of Massachusetts v. EPA.

All of which gets back to those fence sitters and the difficulty of getting 60 Senators to agree on enough to move a bill. One aspect is looking more and more certain. If there is a bill, state authority is going to be preempted and EPA authority under prior CAA provisions is going to be superseded.

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