Carbon dioxide is not pollution

July 21, 2008

by Roz Kohls

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the government had the authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

Thankfully, July 11, the Bush administration said “no,” the White House is not going to claim greenhouse gas or carbon dioxide is a pollutant, according to a 588-page federal notice. If Congress wants to regulate, ration or tax carbon dioxide, it will have to enact a new law to do it.

After all, carbon dioxide is the stuff we all exhale with every breath. And yes, there is such a thing as “bad breath.” But no halitosis is big or bad enough to be classed a pollutant capable of causing climate change.

Carbon dioxide also is essential to plant life. Remember in grade school, we learned about the process of photosynthesis? Plants take in carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to create sugar and an important by-product, oxygen. Without carbon dioxide, we all die. Some “pollutant!”

Regulating carbon dioxide will cripple the US economy, sharply increase gasoline prices, home heating bills and the cost of American businesses, according to White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said using the Clean Air Act for this job, was “putting a square peg into a round hole.”

“The potential regulation of greenhouse gases under any portion of the Clean Air Act could result in unprecedented expansion of EPA authority that would have a profound effect on virtually every section of the economy and touch every household in the land,” Johnson said.

The right way to reduce greenhouse gases is to invest in new technologies, Perino added.

Lawmakers aren’t making much of an effort to take on this responsibility. The House of Representatives has had several hearings on the problem, but no votes on any bill addressing it, according to Dina Cappiello in a July 12 Associated Press report.

The Senate scraped up only 48 votes last month to regulate greenhouse gases, so there isn’t much enthusiasm there, either.

Legislators suspect a law regulating greenhouse gases is going to have a monstrously negative effect on the lives of the voters who put them into office. It’s safer for their own careers to have President Bush do it, and take the blame for any problems it causes.

Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, whose office initiated the Supreme Court case last year, is sputtering that Bush is defying the Supreme Court.

He’s not, though. The government has three branches. It’s Congress’ job to make law, not the president’s.

As Johnson said, “It is really at the feet of Congress.”