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Boxer Blasts EPA Claim That CO2 Is Not a Pollutant

Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has never been much a fan of Stephen Johnson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator with a long record of putting Bush administration orthodoxy above the environment he’s charged to protect. But the California Democrat was particularly rankled after Johnson ruled last week that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are not subject to the Clean Air Act, and therefore the EPA has no business regulating them when approving new power plants.

“The current concerns over global climate change should not drive EPA into adopting an unworkable policy of requiring emissions controls,” Johnson said.

In a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Boxer blasted Johnson’s argument as not only detrimental to anti-global warming efforts, but illegal. To heed Johnson’s words, Boxer wrote, would only “create further unconscionable delay in efforts to protect America — and the world — from the ravages of unchecked global warming.” From the letter:

The steps we must take to address global warming are a recipe for economic recovery, but Mr. Johnson’s illegal memo will only postpone the steps that will combat global warming, create millions of jobs, and ensure America’s energy security.

The courts are on Boxer’s side. In April 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that carbon emissions are indeed subject to the Clean Air Act. More recently, the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board reached the same conclusion. “The Attorney General has an obligation to intervene when the actions of the Administration are so clearly outside the law,” Boxer said in a statement accompanying the letter.

The Natural Resources Defense Council issued a statement saying that the sheer absurdity of the ruling should lend hope to those interested in reining in air pollution.

The ultimate consolation, however, is that today’s EPA offense is so ham-handed, so divorced from the law, that it can and should be reversed by the Obama administration with the stroke of a pen.

Obama already has hopes to overturn many of the Bush administration’s “midnight regulations,” and this, no doubt, will be among those targeted. The question is: How long will that take?

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