Keep Up the Good Work, EPA: Editorial/Op-Ed Roundup

America’s editorial boards and op-ed pages are coming out strongly in favor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its work to protect the health and lives of Americans by updating the Clean Air Act and holding big polluters responsible. 

Here are some of the highlights from the last few days since and right before the holidays: 

  • 2011: Year of the EPA?, Washington Post, (editorial), 12/31/10.  Congress hasn't passed a sensible, comprehensive energy policy. EPA regulation of greenhouse gases is one way the government can cut emissions now, using current law. Over the next year, the president should defend his administration's authority to do so.
  • Needless conflict. Once again, Texas environmental regulators' obstruction forces EPA intervention, The Houston Chronicle, (editorial), 12/30/10. In its zeal to fight the federal government, the administration of Gov. Rick Perry continues to put politics over the interests of Texans. The latest example is the confrontation over greenhouse gas permitting that has resulted in the Environmental Protection Agency taking over what was a state function... Far better would be a state policy to work with the federal environmental regulators to meet the new pollution standards, as some individual refinery operators in Texas are already doing.
  • The EPA goes after carbon, The Miami Herald, (editorial), 12/29/10.  The Clean Air Act turned 40 this year, as did the Environmental Protection Agency, which was created to enforce that new law and others Congress adopted to reduce all types of pollution. But it has taken this many years for the EPA to begin flexing its regulatory muscles to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the principle culprit linked to climate change.
  • EPA: Regulate greenhouse gases, Lexington Herald-Leader, (editorial), 12/29/10.  Certain industries will always declare the end of the world anytime they are subjected to new environmental standards. One prime example is acid-rain regulations in the 1980s. Utilities warned then of all sorts of dire economic consequences if they were forced to curb sulfur and nitrogen emissions that were killing forests. But the economy and republic survived just fine, along with the trees.
  • A Coming Assault on the EPA, New York Times, (editorial), 12/25/10. Ms. Browner could remind the president that it was after a dispiriting Republican midterm victory that President Bill Clinton found his feet on environmental issues. In 1995, the Newt Gingrich crowd came to town promising to overturn a whole body of environmental law. Mr. Clinton rose up, not only winning the big battles, but eventually compiling a sterling record. Mr. Obama should emulate him.
  • The EPA Acts, Toledo Blade, (editorial), 12/31/10.  The decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries is welcome, especially since Congress stubbornly refuses to protect the nation’s air. 
  • California leads way on global warming, San Francisco Chronicle, (editorial), 12/20/10. Washington failed miserably to take action on climate change this year. The nation's best hope is California, which made a historic leap forward last week when its Air Resources Board approved a broad-based cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.
  • EPA must overcome lobbying to fight pollution, Detroit Free Press, (op ed), January 3, 2011.  Nicole Lowen:  But as the EPA moves forward to clean our air, some of the biggest culprits, including coal and oil companies, are mounting a huge opposition and pushing the agency to weaken or block new life-saving standards. What’s worse, many of the pollution rules that EPA is planning already have been put on hold for decades. For example President George W. Bush’s administration delayed cleanup standards for a variety of harmful pollutants, and even when standards were proposed, they were often so weak that courts found them unlawful and returned them to EPA for improvement. Now, as the Obama administration has pledged to finally clean our air and protect public health, those same Bush-era EPA officials are lobbyists for the biggest coal utilities, continuing their legacy of life-threatening delays.These corporate insiders have put our health at risk for too long; Michiganders and all Americans deserve cleaner air and better health. Nicole Lowen is a state associate with Environment Michigan.
  • Congress failed, so EPA should act, Pueblo (CO.) Chieftain, (op-ed), 12/26/10. A. James Barnes: Unless and until Congress crafts legislation setting out a sound national policy to address our energy future as well as global climate change, it should not bar the Environmental Protection Agency from using its existing authority to require large new sources of greenhouse gases to install the best available control technology at the time they are constructed. A. James Barnes, a former Environmental Protection Agency official, is professor of Public and Environmental Affairs and Professor of Law at Indiana University.
  • The EPA's Dangerous Delay, Huffington Post, (op-ed), 12/20/10. Richard L. Revesz and Michael A. Livermore: The political case for stalling may be powerful: members of the incoming majority in Congress have pledged to make EPA an issue, bogging down the agency in paperwork and hearings in an attempt to thwart any agency action. Waiting for a year on this rule may be the safest thing to save energy for other priorities, allowing EPA to return to this issue when the political tides have turned. But on the merits (lives saved, illness avoided, and net economic benefit created) punting on these rules is a mistake with real-life, out-of-the beltway consequences. Richard L. Revesz and Michael A. Livermore are Dean and Lawrence King Professor of Law at New York University School of Law.