Attorney General begs for more federal regulation

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

On October 23 the Attorneys General for 12 states, including Oregon, joined with three cities and 14 environmental groups to sue the federal government for its failure to begin regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) as a “pollutant” under the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded earlier this year that it has no legal authority to regulate CO2.

That environmental groups are suing is no surprise; the question is why Oregon Attorney General Hardy Meyers is jumping on board. First of all, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is an essential element in the atmosphere that helps maintain life as part of the earth’s temperature-control system.

Second, though the plaintiffs argue that CO2 is a cause of so-called global warming, none of the essential facts regarding it are well-understood. There is not even a universally accepted definition of global warming or “climate change.” If we can’t agree on the definition, how are we supposed to monitor it or take any action?

There are also numerous opinions about the costs and benefits of additional CO2 in the atmosphere. It’s possible that Oregon would be a net beneficiary from increased CO2 because Oregon has a large agricultural sector, and plants tend to grow better in the presence of more CO2.

Attorney General Meyers has yet to say why he joined this lawsuit and who is going to pay for the cost of compliance if EPA does enact costly regulations. It’s time to get the rest of the story.

John A. Charles, Jr. is president and CEO at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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