Are carbon and Greenhouse Gases covered by the Clean Air Act Info 101? This is a very good question. No and yes. The answer may be clarified by Congress in the Energy Bill. Under the original Clean Air Act of 1970, and its subsequent amendments in 1977 and 1990, carbon and Greenhouse Gases are not Criteria Pollutants subject to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards protecting public health and property rights.
However, a Conservative Roberts Supreme Court ruling in July 2007 appears to change this substantially. Massachusetts sued EPA over the issue of whether carbon and Greenhouse Gases are subject to the Clean Air Act. The Court ruled in favor of Massachusetts, clearing the way for EPA to begin the rule making process to control Greenhouse Gases. Already an Emissions Inventory rule has been proposed counting the number of tons of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous dioxide and a few other Greenhouse Gases. EPA has yet to propose a Cap and Trade rule, but clearly has the legal authority to do so as it did with precedent for Acid Rain with sulfur dioxides (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), although industry lawsuits will ensue for years.
So will Congress pass a Cap and Trade carbon bill in the fall?
What about the other Environmental Laws of the Nixon-Reagan Era?
Environmental protection is neglected amid job loss, war and renewed terror threats. Many Federal environmental protection acts have expired in the last 2 decades. Voluntary monitoring and reporting and lack of enforcement have removed environmental compliance from corporate budgeting, and are only used for public relations.
Environmental protection, the biggest government success story of this generation, is now viewed as obsolete and the realm of Intellectuals. The Middle Class dose not value public health protection from environmental law. Environmental law is now a state responsibility, with local government barely able to respond to the episodic HazMat incident.
Lives saved and jobs created from environmental protection at the national level are the last thing analyzed by EPA, Interior and OSHA due to funding cuts, State government does not have the manpower or resources to evaluate public and economic benefit of environmental protection.
I have asked the Congressional Budget Office for two years straight now to do an Economic Benefits, Property Loss Avoided and Lives Saved econometric analysis of Climate Change Legislation in Congress and the Senate and nothing.
Continued job loss and unemployment, war and renewed Terror threats both domestically and internationally, mute our reliance on foreign oil and environmental protection.
It is not likely Congress will re-authorize Super Fund, Clean Water and Toxics Control this year. Climate Change trendiness, scientific corruption and advocacy paints most environmentalists as extremist sympathetic to Greepeace and PETA, things the Middle Class find abhorrent and repugnant. Middle Class stabilization of family finances is more vital than their health. This is not a political issue but one of economic cost benefit, a mundane exercise the Middle class cares less for in Recession and War.