President Bush's "big" global warming speech last week fell flat with many key audiences. Not completely so the editors of the Washington Post, who, while fiercely criticizing the White House's proposal and its history to date, have bought into its hyperbolic spin about the impacts of starting to take action now:
If the EPA classifies carbon dioxide from tailpipes as a pollutant that threatens public health or welfare, then the agency will have to regulate greenhouse gases from all other sources as well. Think residential and commercial buildings, which are larger sources of global warming pollution than are motor vehicles. This could knock various economic sectors for a loop and become a "regulatory train wreck," as White House press secretary Dana Perino aptly described it, that could stay mired in the courts for years.
The New York Times, by contrast, is unequivocal in summarizing the administration's legal foibles in today's Earth Day editorial. Essentially, the Post is aligning itself with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), who last week indicated (in a remarks that were quoted and praised by both the Preisdent and this editorial) that he'd like to see a cap-and-trade program preempt other federal and state actions.
Robert Sussman, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Deputy Administrator of the EPA, debunks this hyperbole in both a cogent issue brief and a more succinct blog post over at The Wonk Room. Sussman argues persuasively that the environmental laws fear-mongered in last week's presidential speech-- the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act-- were indeed designed to address emerging problems such as global warming, and that their applications will not lead to the dire consequences warned of by the White House.
It's a shame his analysis didn't make it over to the Post before yesterday's edition went to print...