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Endangerment Finding a Mixed Omen

Author: Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies
December 8, 2009


Monday's EPA endangerment finding ups the pressure on Congress to deliver a legislative solution to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. That’s good news. But I’m baffled by some of the excitement among UN leaders, who seem to think that EPA regulation could be a path to strong U.S. participation in the binding global deal they all want. The math is pretty simple: You only need to pursue EPA regulation if you can’t get 60 votes for a climate bill. But if you can’t get 60 votes for a climate bill, then you certainly can’t get 67 votes for a global climate treaty. The sort of international agreement that the United States could be part of while using EPA regulation to deliver on its commitments – that is, an agreement that wouldn’t require Senate or Congressional approval – would look radically different from what most of the negotiators gathered in Denmark have in mind. The endangerment finding is thus a mixed omen for the Copenhagen talks – and negotiators need to keep all of its implications, not just the ones they like, in mind.

Michael A. Levi writes from the UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen.


This article appears in full on CFR.org by permission of its original publisher. It was originally available here.

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