Attempt To Force EPA To Regulate CO2 A “Power Grab”

Washington, D.C., March 4, 2003—In a study published today, Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis challenges the arguments of several state attorneys general that have threatened to sue Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman unless she agrees to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.  The attorneys general of Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Washington are trying to force EPA to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act, despite the fact that Congress never conferred such power on the Agency.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


“The threat by the attorneys general to sue the EPA over CO2 emissions is a transparent power grab,” said Lewis.  “Carbon dioxide is the most ubiquitous byproduct of industrial civilization, and states have primary responsibility for enforcing the Clean Air Act. Thus, if EPA gives in to their demands, the AGs’ prosecutorial domain will grow by orders of magnitude.”


The plain language, structure, and legislative history of the Act demonstrate that Congress never intended for EPA to regulate CO2. The AGs duck the paramount question of congressional intent, and instead build their case on the “definitional possibilities” of words taken out of context. “The phrase 'laughed out of court' was invented for just such inanities,” said Lewis. 

Mr. Lewis’s study, The Anti-Energy Agenda of the State Attorneys General: From Junk Science to Junk Law is available online.

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