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EPA Must Move Now

This post originally appeared on the National Journal Energy and Environment blog.

Record heat-waves, the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act, and the run-up to the mid-term elections has the country buzzing about global warming and what to do about it. One of the main issues is the role of the EPA in controlling carbon dioxide emissions – which is the leading causes of global warming.

Read the Report on EPA Actions

For years, members of Congress claimed that they should write the rules for regulating emissions. Yet even after a deadly oil spill and what’s shaping up to be the hottest year on record, the Senate has failed to act. Now, EPA, backed by a ruling by the Supreme Court, is trying to do its part to hold polluters accountable.

Using the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions is common sense. The World Resources Institute has found that by using existing authorities such as the Clean Air Act, the country can begin to put the country on the path to meeting President Obama’s commitment to the international community to reduce emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Industry has concerns about adapting to the new standards, and their concerns will be heard in the rulemaking process. In fact, looking back on other regulations industry has feared (i.e., requiring seatbelts in cars) the American public would not want to lose these health and safety protections, and American businesses were able to develop innovative solutions to regulation. The United States has untapped renewable energy employment potential that could be stimulated under these regulations.

While EPA's clean air and water regulations resulted in aggregate annual costs ranging from $26 to $29 billion, benefits ranged from $82 to $533 billion.

While much of the discussion around environmental regulations centers around cost, these benefits are often overlooked. Recently, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its thirteenth annual report to Congress, detailing the estimated benefits and costs of federal regulations during the period of 1999-2009. The report estimated that while clean air and water regulations promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency resulted in aggregate annual costs ranging from $26 to $29 billion, benefits ranged from $82 to $533 billion.

EPA must move now, not just for the environment, but for the economy.

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