'/> Uncommon Hours: It's the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It's the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine

uncooked truth, beyond belief
Issue #282
April 17, 2009

By Josh Dorner

Today truly marks a turning point in the fight against global warming. After nearly a decade of foot-dragging and willful ignorance under the Bush administration -- including open defiance of the Supreme Court, President Obama is leading where Bush lagged. The Environmental Protection Agency -- freed from the chains that bound it under its previous administrator, Bush Sycophant-in-Chief Stephen Johnson -- officially acknowledged that carbon dioxide and five other gases are dangerous air pollutants that threaten public health and welfare.

(When EPA first tired to issue a watered-down version of this same finding -- an "endangerment determination" in Wonkese -- in 2007 and sent it to the Office of Management and Budget for final review, a Dick Cheney crony in the White House ordered EPA to take the email back. In an effort to hold on to the last shreds of its dignity, EPA refused. The Bush White House, conspicuously lacking in both shame and dignity, then simply refused to open the email. And no, despite all outward appearances, this Cheney crony was NOT in fact a 16 year-old girl)

In its landmark 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed that greenhouse gases were indeed pollutants under the Clean Air Act and ordered EPA to at least decide one way or the other if global warming pollution was a danger to human health or welfare. Now that President Obama's EPA has done so, EPA is now obligated to start regulating emissions from motor vehicles, power plants, etc. Now, EPA gets to decide the scope, sequence, and timing of these regulations, but there’s no longer a question of if or even when the U.S. will act on global warming.

And the response of the we'll-say-anything-no-matter-how-crazy to protect Big Oil and other polluters crowd? Quite predictable: THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT. Here's a children's treasury of my favorite responses:

American Petroleum Institute: “The proposed endangerment finding poses an endangerment to the American economy and to every American family.”

Competitive Enterprise Institute (the centerpiece of the denial machine): "a suicide note."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is fond of stoking fears that this will mean even Dunkin' Donuts across our fair land will be regulated by the black hand of government. Not bloody likely, says EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: "It's a myth that we’re at a horrible fork in the road, where the EPA is going to regulate cows, Dunkin' Donuts, Pizza Huts, and baby bottles."

And what of the other main wingnut argument -- that Congress never meant for the Clean Air Act to be used to deal with climate change? Well, that would be ever so slightly more convincing if Congress hadn't explicitly chosen to include effects upon "weather" and "climate" in the list of things that should trigger EPA regulation of a dangerous pollutant. To wit:

Clean Air Act, Section 302(h): All language referring to effects on welfare includes, but is not limited to, effects on soils, water, crops, vegetation, manmade materials, animals, wildlife, weather, visibility, and climate, damage to and deterioration of property, and hazards to transportation, as well as effects on economic values and on personal comfort and well-being, whether caused by transformation, conversion, or combination with other pollutants.

The arguments coming from the other side are pretty weak tea if you ask me. And lord knows there was no shortage of teabagging going on this week.

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