Cap and Trade Returns

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When the Obama administration was unsuccessfully trying to push the “cap and trade” bill through Congress, the president and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa Jackson repeatedly warned policymakers that if the bill didn’t pass, they would regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act anyway. Given the tedious complexity of the Clean Air Act process, many (including this writer) believed this was a hollow threat. We were wrong. On Wednesday, Jackson released a document that will serve as the blueprint for a sweeping new power grab by her agency, one that neatly avoids the tiresome and time-consuming requirements that a piece of legislation duly passed by Congress would impose on the EPA. Under this new set of policy guidelines, bureaucrats charged with regulating the amount of air pollutants released into the atmosphere will be empowered to step away from the smokestack and step into the boiler houses and board rooms of industries across the country.

Up until now, the authority of the EPA and the state and local agencies that do the bulk of environmental work in the field has been limited to “what comes out of the stack.” The EPA could limit emissions, in order to meet applicable standards, but it couldn’t get involved in economic decisions or process details. Those days are over. In the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA will be directing the state and local agencies that report to the feds to use “energy efficiency” as a permitting guideline. Jackson’s agency wants bureaucrats across the nation to begin dictating choices in equipment and the way that equipment is operated and maintained, and to turn the EPA’s judgment on the best way to operate a facility into permit conditions.

The document in question is entitled “PSD and Title V Permitting Guidance for Greenhouse Gases.” It was released to the public on Wednesday. The fact that it is a guidance document, as opposed to a formal regulatory proposal, is very significant. Regulations have to be proposed in certain forms, economic costs have to be considered, and there is a long, detailed public process involved. Guidance, on the other hand, isn’t subject to any of these sorts of annoying requirements. Guidance is the EPA offering its “opinion” on a subject and, when the criticism begins, Jackson will surely hide behind this accurate, but ultimately deceptive, detail. Few states outside of Texas will ignore EPA guidance, for such a document is traditionally treated as Holy Writ by state and local agencies. After all, their permitting decisions are ultimately subject to the EPA’s approval. How can a state regulator expect to have a decision approved by the overseeing federal authority if he or she ignores federal guidance?

It’s a subtle, yet devilishly brilliant policy. Few people understand the legal distinctions that come into play and Jackson will be able to con much of the mainstream media into believing that industrial advocates like me are making a mountain out of a molehill. We’re not. For those readers not aware of it, I am an expert on environmental regulation in general and the Clean Air Act in particular. Helping industry deal with both has been my primary career for over twenty-five years. Believe me: the implications of what Jackson is trying to do will have severe repercussions on our beleaguered industrial sector.

In this particular guidance document, the EPA acknowledges that the Holy Grail of greenhouse gas control, carbon capture and sequestration (i.e. injecting carbon dioxide deep underground) is a long way away from being a cost-effective, reliable technology – if it ever will be. That’s a reasonable start, but it’s all downhill from there. When permitting large new industrial projects, or major modifications to existing plants, the agency is directing permitting authorities to require energy efficiency improvements in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now, nobody is against energy efficiency and most everyone in the private sector is amenable to anything that reduces energy costs. However, when the EPA decides that it should dictate energy efficiency measures by choosing equipment, influencing process design, and turning what should be operational decisions into permit conditions, we’ve crossed a line.

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  • Red_In_SC

    You can call Lisa Jackson at 202-564-4700. Let her know how you feel. I'm sure she'll be happy to hear from you.

    • John R

      I think the answer is for the Republican house to think seriously about defunding the EPA as well as the bloated Dept. of Energy which was created decades ago to get the US off foreign oil dependency and we've seen how well that's worked out. These overly large and growing bureaucracies are filled full of made up jobs that really serve only to extend the reach of central government power and push this country closer to bankruptcy. The answer to most of this countries problems is to shrink the size of government and return the power back to the states as the constitution originally set it up… A small central government to deal with defense, wars, treaties, diplomacy and international commerce and the lion share of power to the states to govern themselves.

  • rebeccahkim

    You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

  • rebeccahkim

    You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

    • Karl Kenett

      Who are you to trust? Trust me means "screw you" in politics. As for give it time, time is "interest," you know, the cost of money. China truuuuuly understands time, and interest.

      Chinese culture is patient, and can afford to play a waiting game. TIME is always on their side, why? Because of it's rapid growth, and with that HUGE population they can… WAIT.

      Do you remember what Deng Xiaoping was suppose to have said when Henry Kissinger asked whether he thought the French Revolution was a good thing: "It's too early to say." That my dear is an insight to the Chinese mentality.

      I hope that you will never see Chinese "Social Justice," or their theory of "Wealth RE-distribution."

      If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
                  — Mark Twain

      These are statements for YOU to expand upon, I'm not young enough to know everything.


      1. An apostrophe is a punctuation mark used to indicate either possession, or omission of letter, or numbers.
      2. Congressmen is one word. (public school?)
      3. loose anything! "Tip the world over on it's side, and everything "loose" will land in Los Angeles." -Frank Lloyd Wright

    • semus

      This ignorance is the biggest problem this country has, and exactly what many holding public office require. We have to educate ourselves. understand the phrase by Franklin "A Republic if you can keep it", there those in office, most ly Democrats and a lot of Republicans that don't want us to understand or remember what this phrase means.

      We better wake up and stay awake.

  • Jan

    You are very correct! We have leaders who are foolish indeed. The following Bible verses should shed some light on their thinking and consequent behavior:

    1Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

    Jeremiah 8:9 The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?

    1 Cor 1:27 American Standard Version
    but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong;

    Psalm 111:10
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (NIV)

    Proverbs 14:1
    The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. (NIV)

    Proverbs 14:8
    The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. (NIV)

    Ecclesiastes 10:2
    The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. (NIV)

    James 1:5
    If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (NIV)

    James 3:17
    But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (NIV)

    • SoCal

      Exactly what we should see with a people who by and large have rejected God. Man believing he can create his own utopia. Mans sin the same as Satans.The Bible lists the characteristics we would observe in people in the latter times before the return of Christ. They mirror exactly what we are seeing today!! Its amazing to watch but sadly so.Mans hubris is killing him,and he cant see it!

  • mark

    Insidious. The left is using legalspeak to ensnare energy producers, and cripple our ability to produce energy at a reasonable price for people. Of course these beaurocrats have high paying jobs, and positions of priviledge, so they are insulated from the consequences that the "Country Class" has to deal with. The Ruling Class, particularly the left, is cruel to its subjects. It's "good for us," don't you know?

  • flamefront

    The obvious fact to acknowledge is that the present administration and the EPA have no ability to account for anything. They only will impose new limits as time passes never having a reachable goal. The point is that they will never stop believing in their false god of a unobtainable 'pristine' environment. Might as well try to make the earth spin backwards. Its a fools errand and and ignoring the global warming scientific fraud illustrates the false belief. The want to kill capitalism and are wannabe Marxists. Do not waste time trying to make their policies rational or be accommodative when their thinking is based on fraud.

    • Fred Dawes

      You are right but when the people are the stupid fools the people will follow the fools. just look at the fools who are totally behind obama to the end.

  • USMCSniper

    Had the environmentalist mentality prevailed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we would have had no Industrial Revolution, a situation that consistent environmentalists would cheer–at least those few who might have managed to survive without the life-saving benefits of modern science and technology. The expressed goal of environmentalism is to prevent man from changing his environment, from intruding on nature. That is why environmentalism is fundamentally anti-man. Intrusion is necessary for human survival. Only by intrusion can man avoid pestilence and famine. Only by intrusion can man control his life and project long-range goals. Intrusion improves the environment, if by "environment" one means the surroundings of man–the external material conditions of human life. Intrusion is a requirement of human nature. But in the environmentalists' paean to "Nature," human nature is omitted. For environmentalism, the "natural" world is a world without man. Man has no legitimate needs, but trees, ponds, and bacteria somehow do.

  • Mike in VA

    Clueless idiots.

    Perhaps, the Obamunists would care to explain how this will encourage plant construction and expansion, which, in turn, will produce more jobs for unemployed and underemployed Americans, expand our manufacturing sector and boost our economy?

    I expect many companies will simply postpone their plans until the Alinsky Administration is driven out of Washington in 2012. Be prepared for two more years of lethargic economic activity and high unemployment.

    • Lori

      In Two Years there will be No Employment, Any freedom, Green gases will turn Dark! Black! Dirty deeds done to dirt Cheap! Waste………………………………………………………………………………………. And Than More Waste…………………… What will the Green do than? Call It the dark movement?

  • Kendrick1

    I have a friend that says that if you make an audio recording of a sidewalk being broken up by a jackhammer, make it into a CD — get some well known to endorse it — you'll make a fortune off it. If the proponents of global warming are really sincere about the environment why not boycott coal and all the products associated
    with it. There's the coal that is used to produce the metals going into automobiles, airplanes, ships, steel reinforcement for buildings and bridges, washing machines, dryers, sewing machines for making the clothes we wear, and countless other steel products. Not to mention a few of the by-products of coal, such as: paving, roofing insulation, storage batteries, fungicides, paint thinner, perfumes medicines, baking powder, fertilizers, paint pigments, synthetic rubber, and linoleum, to name a few. So, above-listed products. One of the best boycotts would be of electricity and natural gas. Turn of your water heaters and take cold showers for about a year and save a bundle of carbon emissions, and see if you are still sincere.

  • 080

    The EPA does not run Congress. It is just the other way around. Even if it wanted to there is no constitutional provision for Congress to hand off its powers to an executive agency. So in the next Congress it will be necessary to defund all extra-Constitutional activity.

    • Brett

      Exactly, Congress needs to defund the EPA, along with a few other agencies headed by Obamunist Czars. Is the Left not the false prophet? If the Administration is going to try an end run on any form of stimulating economic recovery, Congress should cut those agencies off at the knees, and show Obama that the people are serious about not wanting his agenda. All the libs can move to Angola or Ethiopia, or some other country where they can live the way they want to. Backwards, supressed or enslaved. The college professors who spew out the drones that believe we evil should be on the first boat, a sailboat.

  • kasandra

    You are absolutely correct. This is a result of the political left controlling our educational, scientific, educational and media establishments. Left wing "thought" does not depend on logic, facts, or experience and must be based on a perversion of fact or outright propaganda. Just as a small "for instance," for four decades our "civil rights" policy has been based on the notion that, absent discrimination, all groups would have have a respresentation in academia and jobs that is a direct reflection of their percentage of the population at large. There is simply no evidence in all human history for the underlying premise. Yet any (negative) discrepancy from this statistical model is, under U.S. civil rights policy, considered evidence of a "disparate impact" (i.e., discrimination) and can be remedied by government-imposed "goals and timetables" or other methodology to boost the representation of the "underrepresented" group.

  • kasandra

    (Remainder of Kasandra's comment):
    Similarly, the so-called QE-2 policy being advocated by the Fed will cause inflation and inflation will reduce consumer spending, resulting in loss of jobs in the manufacturing and service industries, and will slow any recovery. Yet, that is the policy being pursued by the Fed with, I am certain, the urging of the administration. Melanie Phillips has a new book out concerning the irrationality of current governance. I forget the name but I believe it is the key to understanding what is going on in Western civilization. Well, that plus the loss of will and confidence by the elites.

  • Wesley69

    What Obama can't get through law, he will get through regulation. His radical friends are already at work: the FCC – control of the Internet and now the EPA with its new "holy writ about regulation of green house gases through the certification process. The Cap is being put into place. The Trade will soon follow. And as with Illinois coal, Obama's friends will profit from it.

    The next Congress needs to defund this agency as much as possible. It needs to hold hearings. Industry needs to sue the EPA for exceeding their mandate and trying to make laws which is the sole responsibility of Congress. When a Republican administration is in place with a Republican Congress, the guts need to be ripped out of the EPA and its rule making ability subject to Congress.

    If the extremist EPA gets away with this power grab Obama's words will be truthfully fulfilled. From

    "When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal…under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket…even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gasses, coal power plants, natural gas…you name it…whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations. That will cost money…they will pass that money on to the consumers."

    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Thomas Jefferson

    • Fred Dawes

      The boys on the inside will never rippe out anything most will make deals with the left and make deals with the chinese and you may see more enforcement being handed over to the EPA By the Republican pending deals being made right now.

      lets face facts Thomas Jefferson was right be in this nation today you would never fine on American in 100,000 people and anyone that has a conscience would have long ago been disappeared, This nation and its people only go along to get along.

      Al and bill and many others will make billions on your backs

    • Wesley69

      I hate to be a pessimist, but the odds favor you being right. The politicans are betting that they can outlast the attention level of the people. Then, they will go back to business as usual. It happened in the 1960's & 70's with LBJ & Nixon after the draft ended, Vietnam fell and Watergate claimed its victims. This time it may be different in that the Left, former SDS radicals are trying to impose the social design from the 60's & 70's on a country that is center right. If Americans value their freedom, they had better keep an eye on the government and hold their politicans feet to the fire.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    I do not think they are going to do anything but pass the money
    on to themselves and play us for a bunch of suckers. After what
    the Universities have done to our upcoming generation we have
    much to lose sleep over…………….We need to learn to say no
    and mean it, tell government no, demand conformity to sanity and
    remove any lawmaker who plays games at our expense. Our
    main problem is that one third of our population is brainwashed
    to the current foolishness and destructive programs……….William

  • Fred Dawes

    "Well Yes", Obama and the Reds will use the Back door I saw this coming 15 months ago why didn't you? in fact on Savage nation he said it was coming and within the year. and yes its all about control and the end game is Tyranny, the next back door move will be mass Amnesty in 6 months and if it happens you can kiss your butt good bye this nation will mean nothing but a third world monkey nation to me. "Oh yes", it will mean time for some real Action if you know what i mean.

  • Scotsirish

    The EPA cannot even design a comode which works properly.
    I am waiting to see if the new Congress can flush one.
    One of the few rational persons on television during the campaign was Joe the Plummer.
    We have second and third generation Communists running off with our entire culture…….
    Either the Tree of Liberty will be fertilized or else.

  • Jim C.

    "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt, a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." –Dwight D. Eisenhower

    There numbers aren't negligible any more, Mr. President–and they're even stupider than ever.

  • Eric

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    Most network marketers quit, except for the leaders, who start looking for additional training and education. Hungry for success, members of the latter group end up easy prey for the current network marketing training scams.

    Unfortunately, most MLM companies' network marketing training programs consist of barely motivational meetings on conference calls. Most mlm companies fail to teach their distributors the basics of marketing and communications skills. This is considered one of the major reasons for the high rate of failure in multi-level marketing programs.

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  • coupons

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my hunt for something relating to this.