February 25, 2010

Virginians, hold your breath

Dirty air is just fine
The EPA (under Lisa Jackson) finally seemed to understand the words “enforcement” and “regulation,” and ruled in December that they should regulate six types of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane). However, Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, threw a monkey wrench into any initiatives to clean up Virginia’s air. He filed a petition a few weeks ago with the EPA asking the agency to reconsider its decision to regulate these gases, and filed a challenge of EPA’s decision with the D.C. federal appeals court. Texas jumped on the “No, let’s wait” bandwagon with Virginia, sounding the “it’s bad for business, the economy, and job creation” mantra.

Now I admit that our air is not as bad as it was a while back, before the EPA insisted on “cap and trade” regs to reduce sulfur dioxide. You do member acid rain, don’t you? When was the last time you saw it in the headlines? Yes, that was a clean up success story, and we might have had another one reducing carbon dioxide.

But I hate to see this issue reduced to a choice between our health and our economy. First of all, that’s not the case. And even if it was, I don’t want a new job if I’m having an asthma attack.

But dear AJ Ken (and new governor, Bob McDonnell) don’t see the need to reduce our greenhouse gases and say the studies (from the International Panel on Climate Control) were erroneous. I do see an error, but it’s in Cuccinelli’s thinking. How can anyone doubt that the emissions from cars, factories, and coal plants are good for our health? How can anyone, bureaucrat or not, believe that industry will regulate itself and not worry about the bottom line?

Virginia’s Sierra Club is frothing at the mouth, but I haven’t seen much reaction from anyone else. Did everyone forget VIMS’ studies that show our Hampton Roads shorelines are vulnerable to rising seas more than anywhere in the U.S.? Or were they “faulty studies” too? Gimme a break. I’ve watched my James River lapping closer to my home during the seven years I’ve lived here, and I'm none too happy watching the coal burning power plant across the river in Surry coming closer to fruition. I was hoping that the EPA would really get serious and put the kabosh on ANY new coal plants until (and IF) clean coal really exists.

FYI: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and that the EPA SHALL (not might) enforce that Act. Whether you accept climate change or not is beside the point. It’s our health that also suffers if these pollutants are not regulated.

The EPA is likely to begin by addressing emissions from motor vehicles, then move on to factories and power plants. Congress needs to get involved too in developing clean energy policies, and we see how they are working so well together in a bipartisan fashion to accomplish ANYthing.

The Chamber of commerce, at the same time, is crying “Unfair to businesses,” while no one has mentioned regulating any emitters other than the BIGGIES.