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The EPA's findings on carbon dioxide earlier this week came as a surprise to few. And the timing, in light of Copenhagen, couldn't be better for the Administration (sheer coincidence, we're sure). Now it looks like the Administration isn't just going to bask in the sunlight of getting something done just in time for Obama's big speech in Oslo. The White House is threatening to use the EPA's power of regulation to have it's way with the economy if regulations (i.e. cap and trade) aren't passed post haste.
The Obama administration is warning Congress that if it doesn't move to regulate greenhouse gases, the Environmental Protection Agency will take a "command-and-control" role over the process in a way that could hurt business.
The warning, from a top White House economic official who spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity, came on the eve of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's address to the international conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark.
But while administration officials have long said they prefer Congress take action on climate change, the economic official who spoke with reporters Tuesday night made clear that the EPA will not wait and is prepared to act on its own.
And it won't be pretty.
"If you don't pass this legislation, then ... the EPA is going to have to regulate in this area," the official said. "And it is not going to be able to regulate on a market-based way, so it's going to have to regulate in a command-and-control way, which will probably generate even more uncertainty."
The economic official explained that congressional action could be better for the economy, since it would provide "compensation" for higher energy prices, especially for small businesses dealing with those higher energy costs. Otherwise, the official warned that the kind of "uncertainty" generated by unilateral EPA action would be a huge "deterrent to investment," in an economy already desperate for jobs.
"So, passing the right kind of legislation with the right kind of compensations seems to us to be the best way to reduce uncertainty and actually to encourage investment," the official said.