Saturday, February 13, 2010

Who's Afraid of the EPA?

Today in the Herald Dr. Dexter Perkins added to his contributions explaining the need for and urging action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. This time he was countering an argument that regulating greenhouse gases will harm the national economy and especially North Dakota as pushed by Kevin Cramer (at least for now pending a run for Congress, another North Dakota Public Service Commissioner - notice a pattern here?). Not surprisingly though on the same page with the column by Perkins is a letter by Jerry Grosz taking a contrary position.

The particular facet of the issue at hand today is EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Air Act. Though Grosz calls this action "backdoor", Perkins points out how this has been about three years in the making so far beginning with the 2007 ruling by the Supreme Court that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act.

If Congress had already passed regulations specific to greenhouse gases there would not really be need for EPA involvement like this - the mess would be getting addressed. Signed legislation would be the sturdier and more preferable route, but if that is not in place there is certainly nothing wrong with the EPA carrying out their mission "to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment -- air, water and land -- upon which life depends."

Except if you are the likes of Cramer or Grosz you do see a problem - protecting health and the environment might make energy more expensive! Grosz does the same old breathless fearmongering declaring there will be economic devastation in regulating greenhouse gases, and... Actually that is about it. At least as noteworthy as overblowing the costs and their effects is when Grosz, Cramer, and the like completely ignore any other aspect of regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Not to say it would be the only benefit, but there is the idea of avoiding catastrophic climate change and environmental damage.

Besides just not wanting the EPA to do more, why not push for the EPA to do even less? Imagine how much cheaper, uh, I dunno, something must be if there were not those pesky regulations on the likes of clean diesel, safe drinking water, pesticides, and hazardous waste!

I have a standing question to those like Cramer and Grosz who simply say greenhouse gas emission regulations would be too costly. Are you ignoring or denying the costs of failing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions?

One person for whom we have an answer is... Earl Pomeroy.

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