Environmental case shows lack of ingenuity

It seems like every time environmentalists want something, they run to the government for it. The habit doesn’t help them in the public eye, which is a bad thing – environmentalists address some important issues.

According the The Independent, “A number of environmental groups have joined with a dozen U.S. states and several cities to try to force the government to make the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulate carbon emissions under the framework of the Clean Air Extension Act.”

The legal move faces a major hurdle in trying to convince the Supreme Court – although the Court has approved a hearing of the case on appeal, a divided lower court already ruled against the move. However, it faces an even bigger one if it is, in fact, implemented as policy.

The basic assertion is that the EPA should be able to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Even if the agency was granted the authority to do this, it would still have the discretion to implement it when and where it chose. The EPA is quite aware it needs to tread softly.

The federal government is fighting the move. James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told The Associated Press, “We (the government) still have very strong reservations about an overarching, one-size-fits-all mandate about carbon (emissions).”

In all fairness, it could be argued that the Bush administration has strong reservations about any mandate on carbon emissions at all.

Despite the administration’s reluctance to even discuss the problem, however, bringing the case in front of the Supreme Court may not be the answer. The proposal would grant sweeping power to a federal agency to regulate carbon dioxide, the very gas that human beings exhale as part of respiration. The EPA may or may not be equipped to handle the new responsibility, and car manufacturers – already in trouble in America – would suffer, thereby garnering the EPA and other environmental groups public ill will. People don’t like being unemployed.

It is disturbing, however, that instead of devoting their energies to creating new ways to economize fuel or inventing gadgets that clear emissions from the atmosphere – which they could make money on – environmentalists have run to the federal government to fix the problem again. At the very least, inventing something – instead of just complaining about what others do – would prevent environmentalists from trying to force the government to regulate everything under the sun, including the very air people breathe.