Congress is currently engaged in one of the most complex policy debates of our time -- how best to mitigate climate change without harming the economy.
Even as congressional debate continues, however, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with a plan of its own. The agency recently announced it will regulate emissions from all facilities that emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year, starting as soon as six months from now.
Here's the catch: The EPA hailed this announcement as a step forward, but it's hardly a desirable approach to meet our climate goals. In reality it's a thinly veiled threat, intended to force Congress to pass climate legislation, even though a good bill is not yet close to completion.
That leaves me deeply concerned about the unintended consequences that could accompany this regulation -- for starters, significant economic cost and little environmental benefit.
While EPA has estimated that its regulation will cover roughly 14,000 "sources" -- essentially businesses, buildings and farms -- the actual number will likely be far higher. In regulating emissions, the EPA is required to follow the Clean Air Act, which establishes an explicit regulatory threshold of 250 tons per year. That's 100 times lower than the EPA's proposal.
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