As The World Warms, Environmental Protections Put On The Back Burner

After a year that has so far produced record-breaking snowstorms, droughts, floods, and violent hurricanes and tornadoes, environmental protections are once again being scaled back. Against the best advice of experts, the U.S. EPA has decided to delay issuing new rules for greenhouse gas emissions, the deadline for which is September 30th. This marks the second time in three months that the EPA has missed a deadline for issuing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards.

In their announcement, the EPA said that they are aware that it is their responsibility to move forward with new GHG standards, but they want to consider all of the available information before issuing a final ruling. According to an EPA spokesperson, one factor that the agency is still trying to figure out is the cost of the new measures.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is legally required to put restrictions on any air pollutant that is deemed unsafe for the American public. Thanks to a recent decision that GHGs are a threat to the public, this means they are required to put new standards in place. In addition to legally being required to regulate, the EPA is also not allowed to consider costs when making their decisions, meaning that their current “evaluation” period should not be extended to examine costs.

This new announcement comes on the heels of President Obama’s recent decision to roll back smog standards that the EPA had already put in place. The White House succumbed to a tremendous amount of pressure that the Republican Party had placed on the administration to curb the power of the EPA. The smog standards in place would have reduced ground level ozone levels, which have been shown to cause asthma and other respiratory problems.

Experts are not just concerned about the health problems that delays in EPA action will cause, but also the environmental impact we could face as a result. NOAA has warned that delays in regulating pollutants could lead to even more extreme weather events, which is especially devastating considering the cadre of natural disasters that have swept across America in 2011 so far.

While scientists and environmentalists are upset over the recent anti-environment decisions, the Republican Party couldn’t be happier. Climate change denier James Inhofe celebrated the recent announcements saying, “This announcement, as well as President Obama's recent request that E.P.A. withdraw the ozone standard, makes one thing clear: not only will E.P.A.'s barrage of regulations cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs, they may cost President Obama his own job, and he knows it all too well.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner said that removing the smog regulation was a good first step toward removing obstacles that are blocking business growth.

Tom Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also had praise for the decisions: (This is) “an enormous victory for America's job creators, the right decision by the president and one that will help reduce the uncertainty facing businesses.”

These comments reflect a growing trend among the Republican Party, which is to ruthlessly and baselessly attack the EPA and environmental protections. Their talking point du jour is “job killing regulations,” a talking point that has been debunked by numerous scholars and studies (the best available research shows that regulations actually help create jobs, rather than destroying them.)

This crusade against the EPA has included attacks on the agency as “inefficient,” as well as calls from elected officials and GOP presidential hopefuls to completely abolish the agency.

Both the White House and the EPA want us to be reassured that they are “very committed” to protecting the environment and issuing new standards. But as we’ve seen so far this year, both the president and the EPA are at the mercy of a political party that is doing everything in their power to completely abolish the EPA and destroy any and all regulations that have been put in place over the years.


this is the real paradox- you have a climate beginning to go ‘haywire’ and the far right republican party wanting to make the problems we face even worse

this is due mainly because of the poor messaging from Democrats and Obama- who seem afraid -(all of them) to mention the word ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’.

what will it take for these weak kneed people to face up to the fact we are setting ourselves up for a future of unimaginable horrors? 

They don’t believe the way you do. For the political world, global warming is an issue to be used only when it brings some political advantage.

(the best available research shows that regulations actually help create jobs, rather than destroying them.)

Interesting conclusion, I think many economists would disagree with you on this point. In general any regulation that interferes with the free market and slows commerce will cost jobs.

Jobs are created by a dollar turning over by more consumer transactions occuring with each unit of currency. regulation slows this process and detracts from commerce. Rather than link to the myriad of best available research that shows this quite clearly, I will ask is anyone thinks that more laws create jobs? All we need to create employment is more regulation, why does congress not work 24 hours a day coming up with rules then?  


2008 the heavy truck engines were blindsided by the most stringent regulation ever placed on truck engines. 3000 trucking companies filed bankruptcy. Caterpillar engine company just quit making truck engines. The employment rates in the trucking industry have never recovered from this. So when is this increase in employment supposed to happen?  

The jobs are created because they lay of workers from the factory floor and replace them with a newly created job that is filled by some inspectors that fly back and forth to Washington making four or five times the wages of the factory workers were. Now everybody will share in paying the unemployment of the workers and the salaries of the newly created government inspectors. These inspectors typically don’t have any expertise in the field but rather some brainless nephew of a congressman that needed a job. And that my friend is how jobs are created by creating government regulations.

Didn’t you know?  The Obama administration can create jobs into existence simply by regulatory fiat. 

In fact, I don’t know why they didn’t do it sooner?  Probably those conniving tea-baggers where sabotaging their bold efforts, again.  And Emmanuel Goldstein, of course.

Don’t question it – it’s a miracle.  Like transubstantiation, or something.

“Not consider cost” Well that has been the problem with the EPA for many years. Right now placing regulation on companies without regard to cost would spell disaster not just for these companies. Some green people probably had a big party when they got the news that they were shutting down two coal fired plants in Texas and two coal mines. Luminant in Texas stated that the EPA did not even give enough time to get through the permitting process. So if they were to keep operating they would have several months of shutdown on 2 plants at the same time (no revenue coming in) to install several million dollars worth of equipment. Also consider that the EPA could just change the rules again before the upgrades are complete. So what do they do? Probably the same thing I would do. Just split up the company assets, lay off the workers, and pull the plug. It was only 500 workers, a grain of sand on the beach, but where does it stop. Should the EPA consider the cost? Yes this should have been worked out before hand calculating the cost, the shutdown time, the unemployment while the plant was upgraded. Figure how much the local economy could take and allow them to raise electric rates so this could be done seamlessly. Basically figure how many years notice 2,3, or 5. If the EPA were on their game they would give notice in a timeframe considering cost. But according to you they should not consider cost to the economy. In 2007 heavy truck engines were hit with the most extreme EPA regulation ever passed. 2008 more than 3000 trucking companies filed bankruptcy. That’s ok the economy and the cost to it is not their concern. If they had considered cost from their start we could be years ahead of where we are now. Not their concern because they can just blame it on the industry.

It’s true: Increasing numbers of regulations leads to a direct increase in employment.

… for regulators and bureaucrats, that is.

And if increasing the amount of regulations is directly proportional to an increase in jobs, then it only stands to reason that an infinite amount of regulations will lead to an infinite number of jobs.

See?  It’s like perpetual motion, except with more magical fairy dust!

Sure, some Doubting Thomases will argue that increasing the number of government regulators simply amounts to enlarging public debt even further, and government bureaucrats don’t actually create wealth, rather, they consume it. 

Yes, some economic fuddy-duddies will tell you it would only further damage the economy, making it that much more improbable that we will ever pay off the national debt, which stands (they claim) at over $14 trillion and counting.

But let me posit this: have any of you ever seen this so-called debt?  I haven’t.  Have you ever counted to a trillion?  I know I can’t.  Therefore, it’s pretty clear it doesn’t even exist.  Heck, they’re even using a made-up number for it!  A “trillion”?  What’s that?  They might as well have called it a “gajillion”.

We should immediately avail ourselves of the miracle economic resource of regulation.  We’ll regulate ourselves right out of this darn recession, and we’ll all live like kings!  A chicken in every pot!

We had  an increasingly regulatory environment during the progressive era (early 20th century) and the economy did well- and protected workers from the excesses of big business. During the roaring 20’s we had no regulation a great economy until the lack of regulation wrecked Hoovers’ ‘2 cars in every garage & a chicken in every pot’

then came the crash- and the New Deal began decades of protecting workers from the excesses of business again- and the economy grew, we had a stable and growing middle class….

since 1980 we have been in an anti regulatory mode- but wages have been stagnant, the middle class has shrunk- yet the rich have become exponentially more powerful - yet you anti government folks continue to preach the same inane trash since 1980.

Guess what? What FDR and Truman failed to do in bringing the rich and big business to task, climate change will inevitable either change American capitalism or destroy it for good.

Its nice that mother nature will do something to a corrupt and unfair system- and you guys on the far right can sit there and see it destroyed- and its starting now!


What you say sounds perfectly reasonable to me – If some regulation is good, then a whole lot of regulation must be even better.  It’s a general rule that applies just as well to jobs, as it does to the use of prescription medicines.  Especially OxyContin.

But I obviously don’t have to tell you that.

“Guess what? What FDR and Truman failed to do in bringing the rich and big business to task, climate change will inevitable either change American capitalism or destroy it for good.  Its nice that mother nature will do something to a corrupt and unfair system- and you guys on the far right can sit there and see it destroyed- and its starting now!”

I’d like to add that your last paragraph – about Gaia raining down holy vengeance on our capitalist oppressors – only bolsters my impression of you as being a perfectly reasonable person, and not at all completely insane.

Also, I’m glad you gave credit to the much-maligned FDR, who’s programs and interventions finally managed to end the Great Depression … in 1947, the year the US economy actually began to recover.  Sure, many economists might argue that FDR’s policies actually prolonged the Depression by seven years, compared to if he hadn’t interfered at all, but they forget that some other hypothetical president might have theoretically prolonged it for eight, or even nine years!

See you in the WPA Camp, my friend!

“seems like government doesn’t have a clue what to do about it except hope it goes away.”

More like Republicans are filibustering & purposefully holding things up or opposing for the sake of opposing.

From an ex-GOP member:

“virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.”


A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic.”

So if it seems like what you say is happening, get on the phone to the Republican senator you voted for & intend to vote again & tell them to stop their crap. Otherwise, the Dems will simply repeat the process once the repubs are elected & it will never end.

“People are frustrated and want to see it get moving again.”

So stop supporting people that hold it up.

“The green agenda seems to be clogging things up.”

No, you are just echoing Republican dogma without thinking. Please provide evidence instead of opinion. The solar industry alone in the USA has had a massive growth of 6.8%, while the rest of the economy had 0.7%. That’s despite the massive GOP resistance, cuts to programs & subsidies & th fossil fuel propaganda designed to stifle competition.

The fossil fuel industry, while it reaps lots of income for the shareholders & the government. It employs fewer & fewer people as the industry becomes more mechanized.

Obama knows what needs to be done & how he can do it. He’s just prevented from doing it.


Yep - for most pols it’s all a game. They got us so we get them. You do yourself a disservice when you divide them into dems and repubs. They may be on different teams but they play the same game.

“You do yourself a disservice when you divide them into dems and repubs.”

You do your self a disservice & only harm yourself when you parrot their dogma, unthinkingly & without evidence.

It shows how easily you can be manipulated into echoing whatever repubs are telling you. History shows on this blog, that facts are the last thing you check.


“Obama knows what needs to be done & how he can do it. He’s just prevented from doing it.”

​I’ll agree that he probably knows what he wants to do but is being frustrated by the system.

​Back when The WON first won, I remember great celebrations in these threads and I remember pointing out that he wouldn’t beable to do much anyway … and I recall being laughed at.


​anyway the cold hard truth is that what Obama really wants is to play more golf. I bet he succeeds this time.

“Back when The WON first won, I remember great celebrations in these threads and I remember pointing out that he wouldn’t beable to do much anyway … and I recall being laughed at.”

Because you knew the Repubs were arseholes?