Emissions vote had good points

Published 9:51 am Monday, June 14, 2010

It was a good thing — mostly — last week when the United States Senate narrowly defeated a measure that would have forbidden the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing new limits on carbon emissions.

There’s little doubt that there is a need to reduce emissions, which are also known as greenhouse gases. Even if those gases are not responsible for global warming, as most now believe, they are key byproducts from burning fossil fuels – and we’re running out of fossil fuels. A group of senators, angry because they believe the EPA is usurping Congressional authority, wanted to stop enforcement of the agency’s new greenhouse gas restrictions. On a close vote, the attempt failed.

We say it’s “sort of” a good thing, because in one sense the senators who launched last week’s attempt to derail the EPA were right: Building a coherent environmental and energy policy ought to be a job for the House and Senate. Unfortunately, Congress has been utterly unable to do so. Indeed, the House and Senate have performed even more poorly on the issues of energy and environment than they did in the recent healthcare “reform” effort. It’s not that lawmakers have enacted a bad energy and environment policy, they haven’t been able to agree on a meaningful policy at all.

Having a federal agency, over which voters have minimal control, take on responsibility for one of the most important issues our nation faces is a bad plan. But until Congress can organize itself to do something, it’s better to have the EPA address the matter than to leave it untended.