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EPA's Greenhouse Gases Declaration -- Putting America On the Road to Ruin

President Obama, White House Climate Czar Carol Browner, and their Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are not waiting for Congress to pass cap-and-trade. Shrugging off the Climate-gate scandal, today EPA administration Lisa Jackson issues a so-called "endangerment finding," paving the way for onerous greenhouse gas regulations to be shoehorned into the 1970 Clean Air Act.

Based on a legal theory originally conceived by Climate Czar Carol Browner in the late 1990s, Obama’s EPA is moving ahead with greenhouse gases regulations under the 1970 Clean Air Act even though in 1970 global warming hadn’t even been invented yet, and the doom-saying scientists were instead warning of an impending ice age!

The enormous grassroots reaction to the outrageous Waxman-Markey energy tax bill passing the U.S. House has slowed Senate progress to a crawl. While cap-and-trade remains a major threat (especially with new “tri-partisan” negotiations betweens Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman), the biggest threat of huge new energy taxes and government controls right now comes not from legislation, but regulation.

Next week President Obama will go to Copenhagen to make what he has termed a “politically binding” commitment to reduce greenhouse gases 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, the same levels in the now-stalled cap-and-trade bill. He is able to make this commitment, we can tell from today’s EPA announcement, because he intends to use EPA regulation to short-circuit the democratic process, boycott the Congress, and put us all under a sweeping regulatory regime.

A 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA opened the door to this mischief, although that ruling was about motor-vehicle regulation. The EPA decision today, judging by their proposed regulations, goes far beyond that.

Not only would motor vehicles be regulated, so would light-duty trucks, heavy-duty trucks, buses, motorcycles, planes, trains, ships, boats, tractors, mining equipment, RVs, lawn mowers, fork lifts, and just about everything that has a motor. Because there is no control technology for greenhouse gases, the EPA would require complete redesigns and operational changes.

They would also require permitting for businesses and structures that emit as little as 250 tons of greenhouse gases per year. That threshold may make sense for some air pollutants. But for carbon dioxide it’s frighteningly low, and would subject millions of never-before-regulated entities to an expensive and lengthy EPA permitting process. Any building over 100,000 square feet would be pulled in, as would numerous smaller buildings that produce carbon dioxide. Small businesses, restaurants, schools, and hospitals that have commercial kitchens with gas burners would all be affected.

Don’t take my word for it. Even the 1970 Clean Air Act’s original author, Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, who supports cap-and-trade, says the Obama administration’s latest move is a recipe for disaster. He said:

“We are looking at the possibility of a glorious mess being visited upon this country. This is not what was intended by the Congress and by those of us who wrote the Clean Air Act. We are beginning to look at a wonderfully complex world, which has the potential for shutting down or slowing down virtually all industry and all economic activity and growth.”

The 1970 Clean Air Act is such a bad vehicle to address greenhouse gases that EPA is attempting, illegally, to rewrite the law to suit its purposes. EPA wants to handpick which industries and carbon emitters it will regulate, instead of following the law as written. Not only is it illegal, but it’s also ineffective, because state regulators and courts will still be able to use these regulations to shut down the whole U.S. economy.

Fortunately, the EPA is required by law to accept public comments on its proposal. You can do that by clicking here.

With the Obama administration dead set on selling out our energy policy and economic future to U.N. bureaucrats in Copenhagen, it’s imperative that Congress step in and actively stop his backdoor efforts to implement these policies at the EPA. If they don’t, they must be held responsible for what happens.

Mr. Kerpen is director of policy for Americans for Prosperity. He can be contacted through PhilKerpen.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.  His free two-minute Podcast is available daily.

Phil Kerpen is the founder of American Commitment Action Fund, on the web at www.BookerFAIL.com.