A couple of discordant notes from the field:
The latest idea eruption from Newt Gingrich is to can the Environmental Protection Agency and replace it with something called an Environmental Solutions Agency.
The solutions agency - don't call it ESA because that acronym already is taken - would, in Newt's words, "encourage innovation, incentivize success and emphasize sound science and technology over bureaucracy, regulation, litigation, and restrictions on American energy."
In other words, the solutions agency would be a contrived combination of cheerleader, think tank, and a 1-877-ASK-NEWT advice line. Other than that, it wouldn't accomplish much. The U.S. has made enormous progress in cleaning up air and water quality over the past 40 years because there were regulatory drivers in place. Those drivers sent a price signal of sorts that pollution is a cost and that it was bad public policy to impose such costs on people whose permission to breathe and drink others' filth was neither sought nor received.
Newt's brainstorm hasn't been warmly embraced by other Republican eminences. Even James Inhofe, who can be counted on to scorch EPA with abandon over regulating greenhouse gas emissions, gave Newt's grand vision the brush-off in a Politico interview: "I don't know, I haven't seen what Newt's trying to do. We're going to have an Environmental Protection Agency. You can rename it, I suppose, but it should be a little more user-friendly than it is right now, and it will be after the next election."
"Notwithstanding any other provision of federal law, the laws of physics, as they apply to any direct or indirect effect of potential or actual atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, shall have no force or effect."
The above language is not part of Senator John Barrasso's legislation to squash any federal action to limit greenhouse gases. It might as well have been, however. Barrasso's extreme bill would bar any limits on CO2 emissions via the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, or the National Environmental Policy Act. Don't file a nuisance suit against carbon pollution in federal court if his bill passes because the courts wouldn't be allowed to hear it.
Barrasso's press release announcing the bill says the legislation "does not pre-empt states from enacting greenhouse gas or climate change mandates."
Well, yes and no. The bill would bar states from requiring companies to turn in greenhouse gas allowances for out-of-state emissions. Nor would states be allowed to limit out-of-state electricity imports based on their greenhouse gas emissions. The latter provision is intended to put a thumbscrew on uppity states like California, which in 2007 prohibited new contracts for purchase of coal-generated electricity.
To protect Wyoming's carbonucopia, Barrasso has proposed a dream act for oil and coal interests.
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