Proposals that make it as far in Washington as cap-and-trade did rarely die neatly; they suffer and bleed and seed the ground with a new generation of mutant offspring. Some of the planted ideas aren’t strong enough to thrive in the harsh conditions of politics; others turn out to be surprising hardy.
Building a campaign around the Keystone XL pipeline was one of the latter type. Born out of cap-and-trade's failures, it thrived, fed by two theories—that you can’t trust D.C. politicos to react responsibly to climate change and that victory in the next legislative bout would require gathering power outside the capital. As as issue, Keystone XL has grown so big that, whatever decision the Obama administration finally makes about it in 2014, it will be brandished as an omen of this country's future (and, because it's connected to climate change, every other country's, too).
Cap-and-trade’s failure also gave life to another idea: the Environmental Protection Agency's work on regulating carbon pollution is one of the few fighting chances for any sort of success at slowing climate change.
Three of the D.C. Court of Appeals’ judges delivered climate-regulation opponents what can only be termed a righteous smackdown last week. Their opinion on the Environmental Protection Agency’s work to regulate greenhouse gases is, as much as any legal opinion can be, a delight to read.
I'm a longtime critic of the idea that "objectivity" is the true and only path to journalistic truth, and I believe that here at the Prospect, we prove it every day. It's perfectly possible to have a point of view and still produce journalism that is accurate and fair. The temptation to seize on the things that will make your opponents look bad is always there, but if you're mindful of it, you can retain your integrity.
Not everybody is so capable, however. Check out what happened when a reporter at the conservative website The Daily Caller got a hold of what he thought was gold, from a court filing by the Environmental Protection Agency.
As a whole, the GOP doesn't like environmental regulation. In the past few years, though, Republicans in Washington have had little time to act on that animosity: They've spent their energy insisting that climate change does not exist, that if it does exist, it's not humanity's fault or that if it is humanity's fault, dealing with the consequences will cost too much. That was when Democrats had control of both houses of Congress and were pushing to pass legislation to address climate change. After having disarmed the cap-and-trade bill, which passed the House but failed in the Senate, and gained a majority in the House, Republicans are going even further.
I feel a little bad for Mike Pool, the deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management. He's [a career BLM employee](http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/newsroom/2009/february/SO0903_Pool_acti...) who worked his way up through the agency. And this month he's doing his duty by dealing with the House Natural Resources Committee and its push to open up as much federal land as possible to drilling and other energy development.
The Clean Air Act, which has been taking a beating lately, falls under the EPA's jurisdiction, but in some ways, it's really a law about public health. Its goal is not to keep the air clean solely for the sake of atmospheric purity: polluted air exacerbates conditions like bronchitis, asthma, and heart disease. One of the law's earliest iterations, in 1963, established an air pollution program under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Public Health Service.
This weekend, The New York Timesran a piece rounding up the regressive actions Tea Party governors and their friends are taking at the state level across the country. From ending certain state regulations to defunding the state environmental departments to hamper enforcement, these governors are making sure that their actions complement any anti-environment actions at the federal level.
[E]fforts to make historically large cuts to environmental programs are also in play at the state level as legislatures and governors take aim at conservation and regulations they see as too burdensome to business interests.
Today might be the day that the Senate votes on stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate carbon. Yesterday, the Office of Management and Budget released a statement that criticized the House version of this legislation and promised, "If the President is presented with this legislation … his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."
The Hill's E2 Wire is reporting that a Senate vote on EPA carbon regulations won't happen until next week. Although the White House handed out some tepid reassurance that it would not sell the EPA down the river, it doesn't sound like the administration will jump to the agency's defense.
Whenever I read a bit of news like this one -- that Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat from West Virginia, is co-sponsoring a bill that would keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions -- my first instinct is to look at who's been funding the offending politician. Since Rahall is from West Virginia, I expected to find a pile of money from Big Coal behind him. But that turned out not to be the case, exactly.
Jill Richardson from La Vida Locavorehas a great roundup of all the bills the new Republican House busily introduced on its first day. The list is mostly a flurry of bills to undo the major accomplishments of Obama's first two years; namely repealing health-care reform (there are several) and financial regulatory reform.
Even before the Senate's climactic abandonment of cap-and-trade and renewable-energy goals late last week, the question of why the oil spill in the Gulf has not added more momentum to climate and energy legislation made the rounds. Bradford Plumerfretted over the question in June.