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Sunday, April 04, 2010

"EPA May use Clean Water Act to Regulate Carbon Dioxide"

The administration may not need new legislation to begin regulating emissions of carbon dioxide:

EPA may try to use Clean Water Act to regulate carbon dioxide, by Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers: The Environmental Protection Agency is exploring whether to use the Clean Water Act to control greenhouse gas emissions, which are turning the oceans acidic at a rate that's alarmed some scientists.
With climate change legislation stalled in Congress, the Clean Water Act would serve as a second front, as the Obama administration has sought to use the Clean Air Act to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases administratively.
Since the dawn of the industrial age, acid levels in the oceans have increased 30 percent. Currently, the oceans are absorbing 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a day.
Among other things, scientists worry that the increase in acidity could interrupt the delicate marine food chain, which ranges from microscopic plankton to whales. ... The situation is especially acute along the West Coast. ...
Scientists suspect that acidic water connected with upwelling killed several billion oyster, clam and mussel larvae ... at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery near Tillamook on the Oregon coast in the summer of 2008. ... Shellfish growers in Washington state ... increasingly are concerned that corrosive ocean water entering coastal bays could threaten their ... industry. ...
The Clean Water Act considers high acidity a pollutant... In late March, the EPA published a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on whether the Clean Water Act could be used.
"It's not 100 percent clear where we go here," Suzanne Schwartz, the deputy director of the EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds... "This is not an easy issue. We are trying to figure out how to proceed." Schwartz said the agency was looking to see whether there were more efficient ways to deal with ocean acidification than using the Clean Water Act. ...

As with the financial crisis, where the failure to enforce existing regulation was a factor in the meltdown (not to mention the deregulation that also occurred), someday we may wonder why we didn't enforce the environmental regulations that were already on the books.

    Posted by on Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 12:24 PM in Economics, Environment, Regulation | Permalink  Comments (32)


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