GOP Is Blocking Greenhouse Gas Regulations. Again.

greenhouse gas regulations

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that air pollution is a threat to public health. So why are the leaders of 17 states trying to rollback the EPA’s new greenhouse gas regulations?

You’d think everyone would agree that clean air is essential for a healthy, prosperous nation, but recent action by industry and GOP leaders proves otherwise. Industry groups and over a dozen Republican-led states are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to block the EPA’s newest round of greenhouse gas regulations–claiming that they represent a “brazen power grab” by the Obama administration.

The new greenhouse gas regulations were adopted during the Congressional gridlock of 2011. The new rules require new power plants, factories and other such stationary facilities to limit carbon emissions. According to a 2007 SCOTUS ruling, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are air pollutants, making them subject to EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act. According to the LA Times, the fossil fuel industry claims that “the law covered only air pollutants that make it hard to breath, such as smog, not those that act to trap solar energy in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.” At the time, four Supreme Court justices agreed with this claim, which is why GOP leaders feel confident enough to resurrect the fight.

“Texas, Florida and 15 other Republican-led states joined with business and energy groups in accusing the president and his EPA of overstepping their authority. California, Illinois and 13 other Democratic-led states joined with environmentalists in supporting the EPA’s rules,” reports the LA Times.

The main complaint of these politicians and their industry supporters is that such regulations are bad for business. Namely, the coal-fired power plant business. Rather than protect the long-term health and welfare of the air we all breathe (yes, even Big Oil and Coal executives), these politicians would rather mortgage public health for a few more years of climate-changing energy extraction.

In the end, this issue comes down to two things: 1) the GOP and its friends in industry are upset that they EPA was able to circumvent the joke that is our Congress, and 2) they don’t want to change, especially if it means losing a single cent of their already massive profits.

That’s right, as always, it all comes down to money. As predicted, those in the fossil fuel industry are trying to frighten the public (and bully the EPA) by saying that compliance with the greenhouse gas regulations will cause energy prices to skyrocket. Environmentalists say this is a gross exaggeration.

“The Democratic-led states, in a brief filed with the court, pointed to the ‘recent practical experience’ in California and New York showing that switching to low carbon energy sources can produce ‘more efficient and less polluting industrial processes, delivered at a reasonable cost,’” reports the LA Times.

Ultimately, the decision will come down to a divided SCOTUS, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy likely holding the deciding vote. He was the difference maker when the court faced this issue in 2007, but since then has voiced concern about over-regulation by the administration.

What do you think? Are the new greenhouse gas emissions necessary to protect public health or evidence of a power-hungry President? Share your thoughts in a comment.

Related on Ecosalon:

How Many Trees Should You Plant To Offset Greenhouse Gases?

8 Tips for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

The Dirt on Clean Coal: Looking Beyond The Alternative Fuel Hype

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