Category Archive 'Clean Air Act'

08 Dec 2009

EPA Making Carbon Cycle Illegal on Monday

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Soon to be declared a hazard by the EPA

If democrats succeed in nationalizing health care, Barack Obama’s leftward offensive will certainly have reached its high watermark. it is unlikely that members of Congress worried about re-election will risk defying public opinion a second time in order to enact Cap and Trade.

But Obama has a way around the legislative roadblock. He intends, it has already been disclosed, to have the Environmental Protection Agency adopt the perspective of the craziest environmentalist extremists out there and declare the emissions of all living animals, the gaseous elements of the carbon cycle of organic life, “a danger to the environment and the health of Americans.”

It would be a lot more dangerous, of course, if there were no carbon dioxide. Then, plants could not apply solar energy to it during photosynthesis to release oxygen for us to breathe and produce sugars and starches to serve as the nutritional basis of all vegetable and animal life.

Government prospers by regulating and punishing, by charging fees and leveling fines and by trading regulatory exemption for political support. You have to give the liberals credit for taking their penchant for statism to its logical limit. Once the fundamental processes underlying organic life are declared a menace, government has been given the ultimate blank check, a pretext to regulate, assess, and ban whatever form of productive activity it pleases. All the state has to do is identify a relationship between any intended victim’s economic activity and compounds fundamental to organic life, and its representatives can begin writing up the violation. If you’re living, you’re guilty.

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Wonderful as this is for expanding the reach of political power, as Iain Murray observes, there is always a crazy enviro group out there ready to go to court and some ultraliberal judge ready to rule in its favor forcing govenment to act contrary to its own (and everyone else’s) interest.

The Clean Air Act is potentially a lot more dangerous to the United States than any toxic emissions.

The EPA is about to announce that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, something that has in many ways been inevitable since the boneheaded SCOTUS ruling in Mass. vs EPA (which essentially found that the Clean Air Act was always intended to be Kyoto-on-steroids.) With thanks to my colleague Will Yeatman, here’s a brief summary of what this means, and why you should be appalled.

Under the Clean Air Act, an “endangerment” finding means that the EPA will have to grant a waiver to those states (such as California) that want to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from automobiles. The EPA has already agreed to do so. When “pollutants” that “endanger” human health and welfare are regulated, the EPA must expand its regulatory program to include “stationary” sources. The EPA has already announced that it will do so.

This is where Obama wants to get off the “endangerment” train, with the ability to regulate stationary and mobile sources (i.e., industry and cars) with almost complete discretion. These “endangerment” powers give the president tremendous leverage in a number of complex negotiations.

For example, the Obama administration already has told Congress that it will regulate greenhouse gases unless lawmakers deliver a cap-and-trade bill to his desk. The “endangerment” prerogatives also are the president’s bargaining chip in Copenhagen, where he plans on scoring his first diplomatic victory since his election night.

The problem is that the president can’t get off the train where he wants. He simply can’t stop what he has started. Under the statutory language of the Clean Air Act, the regulation of mobile sources tripwires regulations for all stationary sources that emit more than 250 tons of a designated pollutant. For greenhouse gases, that’s pretty much everything larger than a Gore-sized mansion. These stationary sources would have to get a Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit for any significant modification, as would any new source. They would also have to get operating permits. The upshot is that millions of buildings would be subject to regulations. Small businesses will similarly be affected, as millions of businesses emit that amount of greenhouse gases. Fast-food franchises, apartment blocks, hospitals — you name it — will find themselves subject to EPA bureaucracy.

To get around this, Obama’s EPA proposed a “tailoring rule” that would change the language of the CAA so that the threshold would be 25,000 tons. The legality of this is very much in doubt, as it amounts to the executive branch legislating, and is therefore a violation of the separation of powers. …

Taken to the extent mandated under the Clean Air Act, the EPA would probably have to order the shut-down of most industrial suppliers and users of conventional energy.

There’s only one remedy for this otherwise inevitable regulatory nightmare. The Congress must pass H. R. 391, legislation offered by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) that prohibits the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.

02 Dec 2008

EPA Planning to Tax Livestock

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Beef and dairy cattle and hogs are part of the cycle of life. They breathe in oxygen and breathe out CO2, and their digestion of food produces methane as well. Living animals, at least domestic ones, from the perspective of environmentalists, thus constitute a major source of greenhouse gas air pollution, and consequently need to be taxed in order to discourage bovine respiration and porcine flatulence.

The EPA’s proposed addition of “greenhouse gases” under the Clean Air Act would amount to the imposition of major new taxes on domestic agriculture and on American consumers.

The American Farm Bureau offers some figures and notes that taxing US beef and pork production will only move that production outside US borders.

Most livestock and dairy farmers would not be able to pass along the costs incurred under this plan,” said Mark Maslyn, AFBF executive director of public policy. “Steep fees associated with this action would force many producers out of business. The net result would likely be higher consumer costs for milk, beef and pork,” said Maslyn, in comments submitted to EPA.

According to Agriculture Department figures, any farm or ranch with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs emits more than 100 tons of carbon equivalent per year, and thus would need to obtain a permit under the proposed rules. More than 90 percent of U.S. dairy, beef and pork production would be affected by the proposal, Maslyn noted.

Permit fees vary from state to state but EPA sets a “presumptive minimum rate” for fees. For 2008-2009, the rate is $43.75 per ton of emitted greenhouse gases. According to Maslyn, the proposed fee would mean annual assessments of $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 for each head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.

In addition, Maslyn said the proposed rules would be ineffective because of the global nature of greenhouse gases. “Reduction of a ton of greenhouse gases anywhere will make a difference, but if a ton is removed in Iowa and replaced by a ton in China, then no net effect occurred,” he said. “A livestock tax and regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act will impose restrictions and added costs on the U.S. economy without reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


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