Post by Tim Dowling
Inside EPA reports that EPA Administrator Johnson has postponed making a decision on whether greenhouse pollution endangers public health and welfare as the Supreme Court directed him to do in Mass. v. EPA until he can sort out the ramifications such a finding might have for industry:
EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson says he is "taking a step back" to analyze a slew of greenhouse gas (GHG) litigation, permits and petitions facing the agency in order to decide the best way to proceed given that taking one action under the Clean Air Act can impact a host of other provisions in the statute.
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Johnson said he is "taking a step back to look at the impact" of the host of climate activities on the CAA because taking "one step [under the law] can and will have a dramatic effect on all other provisions."
Industry and other sources have previously said that at such time EPA regulates GHGs from one source of pollution -- such as mobile sources including automobiles -- then the air law requires the agency to regulate those same emissions from all other sources, stationary and non-stationary.
[Congressman Norman] Dicks also asked Johnson whether the agency would have to issue an endangerment finding if it issued GHG fuel or vehicles rules, and Johnson said "that's one of the issues as to whether one does have to issue an endangerment finding . . . and what that means for stationary sources."
In other words, Johnson believes he must assess the potential burden on industy before he decides whether greenhouse pollution is harmful.
That, in a nutshell, exposes the fallacious reasoning that predominates his thinking on global warming and his duties under the federal Clean Air Act. It is not his job to decide whether the CAA is the best vehicle for addressing global warming. Instead, he is obliged to determine whether, in the words of section 202(a), greenhouse pollution "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare." This language does not permit a balancing of human health and welfare against economic impact or inconvenience to industry. If he determines that greenhouse pollution endangers the public (as it obviously does), he must discharge his statutory responsibilities as set forth in the Act, and at that point he can consider cost of compliance and other factors to the extent permitted by the Act.
If Johnson thinks the Act imposes unfair burdens on industry, he should write his congressional delegation and suggest amendments. But if he can't discharge his statutory duties under the Act as currently written, he should resign.