Public health and safety is not a partisan issue. Ensuring the welfare of American citizens is arguably the most important job of the federal government. Therefore, we should question why, when the Environmental Protection Agency sets out to regulate harmful greenhouse gasses, we let rhetorical attacks about economic devastation or job destruction influence the rational restriction of a proven health threat to not only U.S. citizens, but the entire world.
The Clean Air Act and 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA make the Obama administration legally responsible for protecting citizens from the harmful effects of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants. The upcoming EPA regulations are not a case of the president trying to force his agenda through a regulative agency when legislation has failed. Instead, this is a case of performing his obligation to protect health and safety through whichever agency is best equipped to do so.
The EPA is just beginning a multi-year process of regulating greenhouse gas emissions from facilities such as power plants and oil refineries, many of which are already being regulated due to their production of smog, soot and other harmful pollutants. Since Jan. 2, the EPA has been able to regulate factories and other polluters based primarily upon their greenhouse gas emissions. This will force plants to regulate and limit their emissions to obtain permits from the EPA.
Importantly, the EPA is not setting out on a rushed, idealistic crusade against climate change. They are calmly and methodically continuing a process they have performed for years, working with state and local agencies, adjusting to new science and information and acting with a careful eye toward any possible economic effects of regulation.
The greatest benefit from this new policy is the slowing of global climate change. The science behind global climate change or global warming has seen an unfortunate rise in opposition in the past few years, due in great part to rhetorical attacks about “cooked” science, and a manufactured opposition from studies and scientists that have never been accepted by the larger academic community. Compounding this are the media outlets that insist on stressing this artificial opposition and discounting the studies and evidence being presented by experts who have observed the changes, both large and small, that our planet is undergoing.
There is hope, therefore, that all this attention toward environmental policy will provide the government and academia with a chance to educate the American people on the dangers of climate change and debunk the fabricated opposition that some legislators have relied upon to justify their opposition to new regulation. Once the American people can see that new regulation has not resulted in the devastating loss of jobs or economic ruin that detractors such as Senator Jim Inhofe and others who oppose new environmental policy have predicted, they will see that those who stand against the regulations do so not out of concern for their constituents, but out of backwards, unbreakable commitment to protecting big business, no matter who pays the cost.