For a moment I considered the problem that regulation that emerges from a line agency doesn't have the kind of democratic legitimacy that a bill passed by the Senate has. Then I looked at the words "Senate" and "democratic legitimacy" next to each other and decided that's really not much of an objection. A more serious problem is that if the EPA went ahead and cracked down on greenhouse-gas emissions, the Senate might freak out and try to strip them of their authority. But guess what? It'd only take 41 senators to filibuster a move like that. Basically, I'm now at a point where I would prefer that the EPA go wild and slather a thick layer of sticky regulation all over the major carbon-emitting sectors, then let the lobbyists get down and wrestle in it.
To clarify, the Senate has already tried to strip them of their authority. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-
There's probably something to be said for the merits of a comprehensive bill rather than whatever the EPA can squeeze out of their authority. A formal carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, coupled with subsidies for clean energy research and construction and a coherent transit policy would be excellent. But Kerry-Lieberman isn't that good before the amendments start. It's hard to make a choice here until we know exactly what the EPA is capable of. Regardless, its heartening to know that there is a plan B if the Senate doesn't pull through.