EPA-CO2 Battle A Wakeup Call For Buddy Caldwell

Today, the news hit that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency challenging its December ruling that “greenhouse gases,” most notably carbon dioxide, represent a threat to humans and thus were subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Cuccinelli’s petition, which was coupled with another petition to the federal appeals court in Washington seeking a court review of the EPA finding, is the second such action by a state attorney general this week. Texas AG Greg Abbott also filed an appeal with the federal court challenging the basis of the EPA’s endangerment finding, with both attorneys general citing the collapse of the anthropogenic global warming advocacy movement on several fronts of late as the basis of their EPA demands.

“Because of the serious questions surrounding the veracity, objectivity, and trustworthiness of the IPCC report, the State of Texas is asking the Administrator to reconsider the finding and conduct her own independent review to determine the current state of the science in light of the information that has been revealed in recent months,” said Abbott. Meanwhile, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell applauded Cuccinelli’s action by saying “The attorney general is acting in the best interests of the citizens of Virginia. The current federal position could have a negative impact on job creation and economic development in the commonwealth and should be reconsidered.”

While Virginia would like to drill for oil off its coast and has a coal industry of some size, and while Texas has a vast energy industry, one could argue that neither state is as heavily leveraged into hydrocarbon production and refining – and neither state has as tremendous a potential for economic growth arising from newly-discovered oil and gas reserves – as is Louisiana. The EPA’s endangerment finding is potentially disastrous for the state’s offshore oil industry, the new Haynesville Shale gas play, the state’s refineries and its crucial petrochemical industry. The specter of the Obama administration’s Cap and Trade legislative contraption has let the air out of all of those sectors in Louisiana’s economy, putting thousands of highly-trained professionals out of work and stagnating what would otherwise be a very productive economy. But Cap and Trade, awful though it may be, is nothing compared to the punitive regulation contemplated by the EPA as it seeks to enforce its endangerment finding.

Louisiana has dipped a toe in the pool already in expressing disapproval of the EPA’s decision on carbon dioxide. On Dec. 28 governor Bobby Jindal and Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret fired off letters to the EPA’s Lisa Jackson protesting the endangerment finding and warning of the dire consequences to Louisiana’s economy should punitive regulation of carbon emissions ensue.

Which brings Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to the forefront. Caldwell is not one of 16 state attorneys general who have expressed questions about the EPA’s constitutional or legal authority to regulate carbon dioxide, and so far he hasn’t joined Abbott or Cuccinelli in challenging the agency. It is long past time for Caldwell to pursue this action on behalf of the state’s citizens as our governor has done.

This issue is one Caldwell is going to need to address, and soon. After all, efforts in Congress to strip the EPA of its power to regulate carbon dioxide have met with the approval of the state’s Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, who is now being targeted by an atrociously dishonest radio ad from a previously unknown outfit called Catholics United which alleges that Landrieu has thrown in with “Washington Lobbyists” who are killing the state’s children. “Senator Landrieu is cosponsoring legislation that will roll back the Clean Air Act – a law that protects us from polluters putting poison into the air we breathe,” the outrageous ad screeches. The ad, which began running Monday and will continue on talk radio stations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans through the end of the month, has already generated a good bit of outrage locally, as carbon dioxide isn’t often referred to as poison except by the extremist loon community and the “polluters” referred to in the ad happen to be some of the primary drivers of the state’s economy. The ad appears to be backfiring in a major way, strengthening what was already a strong consensus against the EPA’s action among the state’s taxpayers and voters.

With the EPA issue heating up and the state’s economy suffering from the government-generated uncertainty in the energy sector, Caldwell isn’t going to be able to hide on this one. He needs to show some leadership – or this is an issue which could haunt him in next year’s election cycle.

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