The official said that if Congress does not take action, "the EPA is going to have to regulate in this area. And it is not going to be able to regulate in a market-based way, so it's going to have to regulate in a command-and-control way." He explained that legislation would provide compensation for small businesses hit hard by new rules, which EPA action alone could not provide.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson confirmed the threat at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on Wednesday, saying regulators would frame new rules to complement cap-and-trade legislation pending in Congress. During her speech, she also bragged about the Obama Administration's new environmental policies. The New York Times quoted her saying, "In less than 11 months ... we have done more to promote clean energy and prevent climate change than happened in the last eight years." She highlighted the EPA's recent declaration that six greenhouse gases are a menace to public health and welfare, a move allowing the agency to tighten emissions restrictions on automobiles and industries.
The EPA's sudden increased power gives credence to Jackson's claims that the agency will be able to keep promises made at Copenhagen with or without Congressional approval.
House and Senate Republicans disagree and are planning a GOP delegation to Copenhagen to refute the Obama administration's totalitarian boasts. Fox News reports that Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and John Barrasso of Wyoming will join U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, Joe Barton of Texas, and Darrell Issa of California at the conference next week. They plan a press conference to remind Copenhagen delegates that the United States cannot make any binding emissions agreements without Congressional approval. They also plan to give voice to skeptical views of global warming during official meetings of the conference.
Already this week the U.S. negotiator at Copenhagen has denied developing nations' calls for climate-change reparations. Delegates from poor countries claim America owes a debt for supposed damage to their ecosystems, public health, and economies from greenhouse gas emissions. The New York Times reports that Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, scoffed at the idea during a press conference this week. "I actually completely reject the notion of a debt or reparations or anything of the like," he said. "For most of the 200 years since the Industrial Revolution, people were blissfully ignorant of the fact that emissions caused a greenhouse effect. It's a relatively recent phenomenon." Stern did, however, express plans to enact measures to cut emissions and to grant foreign aid to developing countries.
Photo of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson