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John Sherman, Published December 18 2009

Cramer fails to tell the full story

One of the many things North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer doesn’t tell readers in his attack on the EPA (Dec. 14) is the background. In 2006, Massachusetts, 11 other states, the District of Columbia, a couple of cities and various groups sued the Bush EPA because it refused to consider greenhouse gases to be covered by the Clean Air Act. On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court decided that greenhouse gases fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutant.

This means that by law the EPA has to do something about it. What they can do without any further legislation is regulate CO2.

Cramer’s claim that “the declaration by the EPA that CO2 is dangerous to health flies in the face of recent scientific revelations and overwhelming public opposition to climate change legislation” doesn’t make any sense. There is no recent scientific revelation that challenges global warming; there is no “overwhelming” opposition to climate change legislation, and even if there were, scientific questions are not answered by polls.

Given that doing nothing is not a legal or moral option, the choices are (1) Let the EPA regulate producers of CO2 on its own initiative, which is what will happen without legislation; (2) enact laws imposing a carbon tax on producers of carbon, with or without a rebate to those most seriously harmed by the tax; (3) enact cap and trade laws, which use the market as a way to reduce carbon emission.

To be honest, Cramer ought to explain which of the options he prefers and why. Cap and trade strikes me as the least intrusive way to accomplish the necessary reduction of carbon in the atmosphere.