When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently said greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, it seemed to some Americans like a statement out of the clear blue sky. It wasn’t.
The “GHG endangerment” finding started in April 2007 when the U.S. Supreme Court said the EPA’s failure to regulate vehicle carbon-emissions standards violated the Clean Air Act., most recently amended in 1990. EPA made a preliminary finding of endangerment in April 2009, and after reviewing 400,000 public comments, has now confirmed its position.
Senator John Kerry, co-author of the now-pending energy bill (also called the “cap-and-trade bill” and the “climate bill” by various people), posted that the EPA’s action was “a clear message to Copenhagen of the Obama Administration’s commitment…” Kerry also stated: “If Congress does not pass legislation dealing with climate change, the administration is more than justified to use the EPA to impose new regulations.”
Kerry might think twice about giving his fellow legislators an easy excuse to kill his bill: it’s no longer necessary, now that EPA has the power to regulate. As EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson explains, EPA actions bring litigation, while legislative actions bring clarity. Businesses need a clear signal, and only legislation provides it, Jackson says.
She’s right. Many of Jones Lang LaSalle’s corporate clients are happy to make energy efficiency gains if they know their competitors have to jump the same hurdle. One of the biggest surprises of our recent survey of corporate real estate executives was the high percentage of them who said their energy and sustainability activities reflected their personal values. In addition, the energy bill addresses buildings and smart-grid technologies and other carbon-reducing techniques that are not part of the EPA’s mandate. Yet.