Even critics of President Obama would have to admit that America now has an ambitious, smart leader at the helm who is not afraid of taking problems and issues head-on. After all, the Obama Administration has acted quickly to resuscitate a gravely ill economy while at the same time continues to deftly prosecute a two-front war against terrorism. Obama also fights pirates off Somalia, has begun taking steps to reform our broken healthcare system and, oh, yes, told the CEO's in Detroit to get off their overstuffed duffs and begin producing cars that Americans actually want to buy.
Finally, this president has reorganized an Environmental Protection Agency that ... wait for it ... actually now acknowledges that global warming is killing our planet. Talk about a 'no-duh' moment. Still, the recent 180-degree turn the EPA recently should be applauded. Instead of following the Bush Administration doctrine that for years resisted the findings of the planet's best scientific minds, the EPA issued a "proposed" finding that, yes, greenhouse gases are endangering the public health and welfare. For many Golden State politicians and officials who have beating their heads against a heretofore intransigent EPA, the announcement was pleasing.
"After years of inexcusable neglect under the Bush Administration, the
EPA has taken the first concrete step toward curbing global warming by
making a preliminary determination that greenhouse gases endanger
public health or welfare," Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a
statement. "This proposed endangerment determination opens the door to
the first serious national effort to reduce greenhouse gases."
This proposed determination stems from the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA -- a case in which the Golden State was a lead plaintiff -- which required EPA to determine whether the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare."
The Bush Administration refused to comply with the court's order to make such a determination. The EPA under Obama has now done just the opposite.
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) joined with others in validating the significance of the policy reversal.
"(Friday's) decision by the Obama Administration to recognize the danger to the public's health and welfare posed by global warming emissions is welcome news. Indeed, the Supreme Court two years ago directed the EPA to determine whether global warming emissions from vehicles should be reduced pursuant to the Clean Air Act. The science of global warming can no longer be ignored and we cannot afford to delay action any longer," Capps said.
Now that the EPA has taken the leap of acknowledging that global warming is actually happening, the agency has also quickly proposed moving ahead with the creation of a national greenhouse gas emission registry that will enable the government to better manage the crisis.
California's two U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, were the lead authors of a provision that provided $3.5 million to the EPA to establish the registry by June 26, 2009. The measure was signed into law as part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
According to EPA, approximately 85 to 90 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, from approximately 13,000 facilities, would be covered by the proposed rule. The reporting requirements generally would apply to facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
"President Obama, in his first budget proposal, has laid out a framework for an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to curb our nation's emissions, designed to take effect in 2012. But before we can implement the President's proposal or any other cap-and-trade system, we need accurate reporting data on all major facilities that emit greenhouse gas emissions - and that is exactly what this registry would provide," said Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment. "I applaud EPA Administrator (Lisa P.) Jackson for taking this first important step in the fight against global warming."
Follow Jeff Mitchell's political blog at BAPolitix.org