While we've still got another half-hour to go before President Bush's "big" global warming speech, media confusion over just how limited his "intermediate" plan will be has reigned, though it seems that our earlier observation that nothing concrete will even be announced is accurate. Even former Bush EPA appointee, and current industry shill, Jeffrey Holmstead tells Bloomberg News that it's "a mistake to view what's under discussion as an abrupt shift" (h/t to the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin, who reminds readers that today effectively marks "Bush's Third Climate Change Fake-Out").
But the White House does make it clear, in advance excerpts from the speech, that it would like to have gotten away with avoiding even this latest charade, if it wasn't for
those pesky kids that pesky Supreme Court:
On the problem of outdated regulations being applied to climate change:
As we approach this challenge, we face a growing problem here at home. Some courts are taking laws written more than 30 years ago to primarily address local and regional environmental effects, and applying them to global climate change. The Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act were never meant to regulate global climate change. For example, under a Supreme Court decision last year, the Clean Air Act could be applied to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
If these laws are stretched beyond their original intent, they could override the programs Congress just adopted, and force the government to regulate more than just power plant emissions. They could also force the government to regulate smaller users and producers of energy from schools and stores to hospitals and apartment buildings. This would make the federal government act like a local planning and zoning board, and it would have crippling effects on our entire economy.
Decisions with such far-reaching impact should not be left to unelected regulators and judges. Such decisions should be debated openly and made by the elected representatives of the people they affect...
In other words, anyone who read our coverage of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson's most recent testimony on Capitol Hill got an advance preview of today's address (though those who still want to watch are welcome to try one of the drinking games that have been proposed). We've seen this argument before:
fear-mongering hyperbole on the implications of EPA following the law and wishful thinking that it was different; attempts to claim that the administration has already taken meaningful action...and most importantly, utter disregard for steps that the Supreme Court mandated. Adam Siegel over at Energy Smart says it best:
Note key words: “elected representatives” rather than those “unelected regulators and judges”. This means that BushCo is concerned that, increasingly, judges are enforcing the law and calling violators to account. Perhaps this is because, time after time, courts are calling the Bush Administration to account for violating the law. Oh, yes, those laws passed by Congress and signed by Presidents. Those “unelected” are enforcing the laws passed by the “elected”.
As several observers have noted, those same pesky, unelected courts might very well render the increasingly irrelevant White House's delaying tactics moot by year's end. Not because they think they'd do a better job of making judgments, but because the rule of law simply demands it. The White House's only recourse now is actively working to change the law...but getting back to our original point, they seem to have weighed that option and settled on more denial and delay.