Last month the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its so-called ‘endangerment findings’, an announcement that set the table for future federal CO2 regulations under the Clean Air Act on the basis of greenhouse gases (GHG) representing a threat to human health and welfare.
The EPA’s landmark announcement was released at a time when public skepticism about the root causes of climate change is on the rise, and the sizable group of critics that oppose the endangerment findings were given a boost of ammunition this week.
The release of an undated and unsigned White House of Management and Budget memorandum (marked as ‘Deliberative – Attorney Client Privilege’) provides nine pages of critiques and challenges to the EPA’s assertion that GHG are a threat to human health and welfare. The memo is based on a collection of opinions from representatives of various federal agencies. The memo questions the scientific rigor employed by the EPA in preparing its endangerment findings report, and even suggests that the proposal to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act “would have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the US economy, including small businesses and small communities”.
The release of the memo has had an expected response. A number of Congressional Republicans have embraced the document as evidence to re-shape, dilute, or even delay the Obama administration’s proposed climate change legislation. The White House has responded that most critiques within the memo were from holdovers appointed by President Bush.
Regardless of who authored the memo and which President assigned them, the document exposes grave concerns by a number of officials throughout the government with the EPA’s endangerment findings. Unfortunately this memo has revealed that the current administration’s appointees might be using similar strong-arm and tunnel-vision tactics as were employed throughout the Bush administration, albeit with a much different end goal.
With the potenial implications that GHG legislation might have on the US and global ecomonies, is it not better to act cautiously and consider all viewpoints rather than impulsively and rashly pass poorly designed legislation?
Stephen Boles is co-founder of Kuzuka, a marketplace website that will bring a new level of convenience and confidence to carbon offset customers and provide consulting services to organizations that want to assess and reduce their carbon footprint.