EPA Begins Carbon Regulation Process

And if that's a boring headline, well, you and my editor agree. But this is going to be a boring process. It'll take, probably, years, plural, before the EPA issues regulations. Having formally announced an "endangerment" finding, the agency begins a period of public comment for the stakeholders. An EPA release makes the administration's preference very clear: "Notwithstanding this required regulatory process, both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have repeatedly indicated their preference for comprehensive legislation to address this issue and create the framework for a clean energy economy."

One question for stakeholders:  which part of the Clean Air Act the EPA chooses to use to regulate carbon how that will impact/be impacted/replaced by any legislation Congress passes.  For instance, by finding that emissions from cars and trucks are part of that endangerment, the EPA could theoretically choose to make each and every car owner get a permit from the EPA. That won't happen, but the wording of today's finding theoretically gives the government that power.

So -- today's finding will be marginally useful for members of Congress like Rep. Ed Markey to convince other members of Congress to take carbon regulation seriously. The administration remains skeptical that it will be sent a cap-and-trade bill this year, but there will be many catalysts, internally and externally, that might persuade Congress (the Senate, in particular) to act expeditiously.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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