Tuesday, May 12, 2009

White House: CO2 rules to seriously impact economy

Original Post:
A couple big stories on the EPA today. From Dow Jones Newswires:
The OMB memo questions the adequacy of the EPA finding that the gases are a harm to the public when there is "no demonstrated direct health effects," and the scientific data on which the agency relies are "almost exclusively from non-EPA sources"

U.S. regulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide "is likely to have serious economic consequences" for businesses small and large across the economy, a White House memo warned the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year.

The nine-page document also undermines the EPA's reasoning for a proposed finding that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health and welfare, a trigger for new rules.

The memo, an amalgamation of government agencies' comments sent from the Office of Management and Budget to the EPA, is in stark contrast to the official position presented by President Barack Obama and his Cabinet officials. It is likely to give critics of greenhouse-gas regulation ammunition in their political salvos against the administration.

Cabinet officials, including the president's climate-change czar, Carol Browner, have said the administration would prefer Congress create greenhouse-gas regulations through legislation, and not through the EPA's Clean Air Act authority.

But the White House has given the EPA the green light to move ahead with regulation under the Clean Air Act, a move deemed by some analysts as political leverage to push Congress to act because of the bluntness of the tool.
According to government records, the document was submitted by the OMB as comment on the EPA's April proposed finding that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health and welfare, a key trigger for regulation of the gases emitted from cars, power plants, and potentially any number of other sources, including lawn mowers, snowmobiles and hospitals.

While business groups have warned about the potential for a cascade of regulation and litigation, the EPA has said that greenhouse-gas rules would only be for large emitters.

The memo - marked as "Deliberative-Attorney Client Privilege" - doesn't have a date or a named author. But an OMB spokesman confirmed it was prepared by Obama administration staff as part of the inter-agency review process of the proposed endangerment finding....MORE
HT: MarketWatch: Memo flags steep price tag for carbon dioxide measures

Here's the LA Times' story:
EPA's greenhouse gas ruling defies economic warning
And the New York Times' Green Inc. blog:

E.P.A.’s Greenhouse Gas Proposal Critiqued

The Environmental Protection Agency ignored major economic and scientific questions in its April proposal to regulate carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases, according to an internal government critique.

The undated and unsigned government memo, prepared by the White House Office of Management and Budget, said that the proposed finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare was not based on a systematic analysis of costs and benefits and fell short of scientific rigor on a number of issues.

It also said that the E.P.A.’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act would have “serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities.”

The document also raised questions about the E.P.A.’s inclusion of gases that are believed to contribute to global warming without proving that they have direct health effects....MORE, including video of the Secretary's testimony
Another angle to today's story, from the Wall Street Journal:

EPA Chief: CO2 Danger Finding May Not 'Mean Regulation'

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday a finding that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are a public-health danger won't necessarily lead to government regulation of emissions, an apparent about-face for the Obama administration.

The new position follows revelation of a White House document that warns the EPA of the wide-ranging -- and potentially economically harmful -- consequences of an agency finding last month that proposes declaring greenhouse gases are a danger to the public.

The White House memo also undermines the EPA's reasoning for the "endangerment" proposal.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has previously said such a decision "will indeed trigger the beginning of regulation of CO2."

But speaking before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Ms. Jackson said Tuesday that an endangerment finding, "does not mean regulation."

An EPA spokeswoman wasn't immediately able to explain the apparent change of policy position....MORE

HT: Environmental Capital who write:

The Obama administration has the power to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. But it really, really wants Congress to do the heavy lifting....MORE

See Rupert, the blogs pay off!

Here's the OMB memo via the WSJ.