Sack Race Regulation

Speaking of relay races… last year about this time, the courts pointed out that the EPA had a duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, since they’re pollution, and hurt the environment, and allegedly the EPA is all about environmental protection or whatever.

The EPA promised to get back to the American people on that by the end of 2007, but we got nothing. Last week, a coagulation of groups and places (including Baltimore City, the state of Maryland, and Washington DC) filed a lawsuit against the EPA, seeking their proposed emissions limits, or really just any indication that the EPA is doing it’s job.

Meanwhile, some members of the House said it’d be silly to let the EPA write the laws, since they’d just get sued by anti-regulations types if they did. Instead, they think that legislators should pass some emissions laws, post-haste.

And today, rumors surfaced of a White House plan to control greenhouse gas emissions– maybe to be presented to the legislature by the end of the week (maybe take some people’s minds off that Colombia FTA, oof).

Well well.  Let’s start with the White House.  It’s not April Fool’s (I checked), and I don’t think it’s opposite day, so they might actually be serious.  Conventional wisdom has it (see resigned comments in other articles) that as long as Bush was in office, greenhouse gases would roll freely along.  Bush has proven himself to lack all sorts of foresight- has he just now caught up with the rest of the world?

Then the legislature.  After the biofuels silliness, will we really be so strapped as to ask our more posturing politicians to make coherent and helpful rules based on good science and a basic understanding of the economy?  Sends chills down my spine, that’s what.

But the bureaucrats, the ones who have the experience in drafting regulations, and the capacity to understand the research, and who had a great reputation for cleaning up America, will they even pay attention?

So, I can’t fathom that the president really has a plan (and even so it might go through the legislature), I don’t trust the legislature to get this right, and the bureaucrats are no-shows.

Regulation of greenhouse gases is the first, most basic step in tying pollution to a cost in the market.  If we assign pollution no cost, the market will never “correct itself” to stop destroying the ecosystem we know how to live in.  If we assign it the wrong cost, free marketeers will get to whine about interventionism, and the market will do insane things and freak everybody else out (see biofuels and food, rising costs of).

With these bozos vying (or not) for the chance at the prize, I don’t see a way for anyone to win.  They’re just thrashing around on the field, trying to figure out how to stand up.

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