Enviro groups "want to force EPA to regulate everything"

“In the high-stakes game of chicken the Obama White House has been playing with Congress over who will regulate the earth’s climate, the president’s team just motored into a ditch. So much for threats.

The threat the White House has been leveling at Congress is the Environmental Protection Agency’s “endangerment finding,” which EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson finally issued this week. …

From the start, the Obama team has wielded the EPA action as a club, warning Congress that if it did not come up with cap-and-trade legislation the EPA would act on its own—and in a far more blunt fashion than Congress preferred. …

The thing about threats, though, is that at some point you have to act on them. …

President Obama, having failed to get climate legislation, didn’t want to show up to the Copenhagen climate talks with a big, fat nothing. So the EPA pulled the pin. In doing so, it exploded its own threat.

Far from alarm, the feeling sweeping through many quarters of the Democratic Congress is relief. Voters know cap-and-trade is Washington code for painful new energy taxes. With a recession on, the subject has become poisonous in congressional districts. Blue Dogs and swing-state senators watched in alarm as local Democrats in the recent Virginia and New Jersey elections were pounded on the issue, and lost their seats.

But now? Hurrah! It’s the administration’s problem! No one can say Washington isn’t doing something; the EPA has it under control. The agency’s move gives Congress a further excuse not to act.

“The Obama administration now owns this political hot potato,” says one industry source. “If I’m [Nebraska Senator] Ben Nelson or [North Dakota Senator] Kent Conrad, why would I ever want to take it back?” …

Then there are the rules stemming from the finding. Not wanting to take on the political nightmare of regulating every American lawn mower, the EPA has produced a “tailoring rule” that it says allows it to focus solely on large greenhouse gas emitters. Yet the Clean Air Act—authored by Congress—clearly directs the EPA to also regulate small emitters.

This is where green groups come in. The tailoring rule “invites suits,” says Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), who has emerged as a top Senate watchdog of EPA actions. Talk of business litigation aside, Mr. Barrasso sees “most of the lawsuits coming from the environmental groups” who want to force the EPA to regulate everything. The agency is going to get hit from all directions. Even if these outsiders don’t win their suits, they have the ability to twist up the regulations for a while.

Bottom line: At least some congressional Democrats view this as breathing room, a further reason to not tackle a killer issue in the run-up to next year’s election. Mr. Obama may emerge from Copehagen with some sort of “deal.” But his real problem is getting Congress to act, and his EPA move may have just made that job harder.” “The EPA’s Carbon Bomb Fizzles

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