While the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats know that passing so-called environmental legislation will be a tough sell to the American people, the White House is bypassing the legislative process by using the Environmental Protection Agency.
In a landmark decision in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA possessed the legal authority to regulate so-called greenhouse gases.
As a result of the court bestowing such power on that agency -- and the likelihood that Cap and Trade and similar legislation will not reach President Obama's desk for signing -- EPA officials have declared carbon dioxide and other gases to be a threat to the environment and to the health of Americans. They are currently formulating regulations to restrict emissions from automobiles and trucks, power plants and other sources.
For example, last January, the EPA proposed a rule to lower the primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone from the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a level between 60 and 70 ppb. Under the Clean Air Act, areas that do not meet the new standard would then be considered “non-attainment” (NA).
An NA designation can hinder economic development and limit business expansion in an already struggling economy. EPA cites no new health studies as the reason for lowering the standard, but believes the prior administration did not go far enough in 2008 when the standard was lowered from 80 ppb to 75 ppb.
EPA’s proposal would have the following effects in North Carolina:
* The majority of counties with ozone monitors would exceed the new standard under baseline conditions;
* In some cases, businesses would have to reduce emissions by more than 70 percent;
* With existing technology, less than half of the necessary reductions would be achieved. This means that even if business installed all available controls, EPA’s proposal will not be achievable and many counties would be in perpetual non-attainment; and
* It would cost North Carolina businesses and individuals as much as $4.2 billion, according to EPA own estimates.
Restrictive permit requirements discourage companies from building or expanding major manufacturing facilities in the state. These requirements include offsetting new emissions and installing the maximum emission reduction technology without consideration of costs.
Federal funding for highway and transit projects can be lost unless the state demonstrates that the projects will not increase emissions. Costly compliance will make North Carolina businesses less competitive and thus lead to direct employment losses. These direct losses will generate larger overall losses through multiplier effects.
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