Although the Bush administration is only 7 years old, I would still hope it would act more mature than my 6 year-old. After reading the administration’s 588 page response to the Supreme Court’s order that it consider whether greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare, however, I’m thinking my son has the edge.
The first 90 or so pages of EPA’s "advance notice of proposed rulemaking" consist of letters from a broad array of federal agencies—from the Departments of Commerce, Energy and Agriculture to the Small Business Association and the Office of Management and Budget.
Without fail, the letters are a litany of complaints about why EPA cannot or should not regulate greenhouse gases: It’s too hard to do, too complicated; we don’t have the right tools; it will cost too much (despite EPA’s estimate that regulating GHGs would actually save US society between 340 billon and 2 trillion dollars by 2020).
"I can’t! It’s too hard!! It will never, ever, ever work!!!" When my son sounds that way, it’s a sure sign that he’s tired or hungry. In that mood, every problem seems overwhelming. But after a nap or a snack, he gets right back to work, sure that with enough effort and the right new approach, he can do anything. The Bush administration has been looking at climate change for years, but it still can’t get to "yes."
The best scientists and policy analysts say we can reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions substantially. Using already existing energy efficiency technologies, we can make major cuts almost immediately. By shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we can create energy and jobs while reducing global warming pollution at the same time. And through effective, enforceable carbon limits, we can reduce our pollution even further.
With passion, effort, and good old American ingenuity, the solutions are there, and Americans have shown that they want to solve this problem. But we’re being blocked by a government that refuses even to try—that sticks its fingers in its ears and screams "No!"
Maybe the administration needs a nap. Thankfully, it will have time for a long one come January. Until then, it looks like we’re stuck with a tantrum.