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From Newsweek

EPA Ups the Ante on Climate-Energy Bill

The Environmental Protection Agency kept the media’s focus on energy and climate this week with a new announcement that in July of next year, it would begin a sweeping crackdown on some of the country’s biggest polluters. Under the plan, stationery sources of greenhouses that emit more than 100,000 tons a year will have to massively ramp down or face high fees.

It’s serious stuff. The rule, when enacted, would be the farthest-reaching effort to reduce the U.S.’s out-of-control emissions—the most abundant in the world. And it would be President Obama making good on his promise to environmentalists, who have been waiting patiently for a response to climate change. To major polluters, like utilities and energy producers, it would influence a top-to-bottom taking-stock of operations and a substantial shift to renewable energy sources.

But as NEWSWEEK reported in March, this threat to enact sweeping reduction measures is simply that: a bluff. Congress doesn’t want the EPA to regulate the country's way out of climate change. And frankly, EPA chief Lisa Jackson doesn’t want to either. “A comprehensive legislative solution is certainly our priority,” she told NEWSWEEK back then, which, if you read between the lines, translates to "we’d rather Congress do the heavy lifting so we don’t have to." Paul Bledsoe of the National Commission on Energy Policy, an arm of the Bipartisan Policy Center, explained how a regulatory solution from EPA would be "more expensive and less effective" than an all-encompassing bill.

The problem is, Congress is dragging its feet, leaving it uncertain if energy will even come up for a vote this year at all. EPA officials are concerned that if no bill gets passed, they’ll actually have to make good on their threat, which would result in a spate of lawsuits and widespread calls of executive overreach on what would normally be a legislative issue. That, and the muddying of the agency’s reputation during the whole, messy process.

The Kerry-Lieberman energy bill that was rolled out this week is a promising step. Yet there remain a million scenarios that could kill it, and leave nothing. Which is partly why EPA officials chose this week to renew their threat. And to remind Congress to get moving.

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