I have a piece in Canada’s National Post today (actually a joint op-ed co-authored with Maureen Bader of the Canadian Taxpayers Foundation, whose name was inadvertently left off of the piece.) It concerns President Obama’s first foreign visit to our neighbor to the north to meet Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper, you may recall, called Kyoto “essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.”
The latter has to take center stage today over anything that is said in Canada given that, as of yesterday, EPA has indicated it will soon make the bizarre determination, post-Mass. v. EPA, that carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. tailpipes “endanger human health and welfare.” This is bizarre because you might consider how human health and welfare fare in the absence of those tailpipes; we already know that no computer says taking them all of the road would have any detectable impact on climate, whatsoever. Such is the genius of bureaucracy.
Let there be no mistake that EPA is simply manifesting the fairly clever if cynical approach of looking to pressure Congress, in part through pressuring certain business lobbies to ask for cap-n-trade as relief — completely flipping the current calculus that has the rationers paralyzed.
Congress instead should be pressured only to move the pithy and inescapably true Blackburn admonition, that the Clean Air Act as written is not intended for regulation of GHGs. As noted in this space before, this is the sole responsible course, allowing deliberate consideration of what would be the biggest regulatory program in history and taking the decision to sneak a back-door (and futile) energy tax through a regulatory agency.
EPA’s argument will be “the Court made us,” just as Congress’s will be that EPA forced their hand. Here you will see how no one wants to take responsibility for this mess and it will always be someone else’s fault. And then certain business lobbies will offer cover by begging to be saved from EPA. Finally, this will force the rent-seekers to overcome the one truism most responsible for the failure to date of their waterboys in Congress to reconcile the various cap-and-trade schemes: when it comes time to split up the loot, thieves always fall out. EPA and the Obama administration are betting they can finesse this. We’ll see.