Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Department of Environmental Quality Chairman Bryan Shaw yesterday sent this strongly worded letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, regarding the Obama administration’s intention to regulate greenhouse gases.
Some background: As has been noted repeatedly by my colleague Marlo Lewis, the Obama administration’s plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is a runaway train. In a nutshell, the administration wants to pick and choose which sections of the Clean Air Act apply to greenhouse gases, but that’s not how the legislation works. In fact, the Clean Air Act is written such that one provision tripwires another, which tripwires another, and so on and so forth, until the whole Act applies. When the Congress created this of belt-and-suspenders approach to regulation, in the 1970s, it was trying to limit particulate pollution that causes smog. Greenhouse gases, however, are emitted in much greater quantities than particulate pollution. As a result, the Clean Air Act, if applied literally to greenhouse gases, would result in the regulation of every mansion, apartment building, and office complex.That is, it would be a regulatory nightmare. To avoid having to regulate the entire economy, the EPA wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act. Of course, this is legally dubious–the executive is not allowed to play the roll of the legislature. And it is this Constitutional conflict that precipitated the Texas letter.