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Jonah Goldberg / December 11, 2009

Global Warming as a Political Tool

On Monday, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, formally announced that her agency now considers carbon dioxide to be a dangerous pollutant, subject to government regulation. The “finding” comes two years after the Supreme Court ruled that CO2 falls under the EPA’s jurisdiction.

A day later, an unnamed White House official told Fox’s Major Garrett that the message for Congress is clear: “If you don’t pass this (cap-and-trade) legislation … the EPA is going to have to regulate in this area. … 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.”

And such “uncertainty” is a huge “deterrent to investment,” which will hurt the economy even more.

Translation: We don’t want the EPA to kick the economy in the groin, but if Congress doesn’t act, well, a-groin-kickin’ we shall go.

This is grotesquely dishonest.

The White House and Congress could, quite easily, do something about the EPA’s threat. President Obama could instruct Jackson to interpret the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision granting the EPA power to regulate greenhouse gases more loosely. He could ask Congress to simply rewrite the Clean Air Act so as to exclude carbon dioxide from its list of official pollutants – the policy the EPA followed for years until the Supreme Court reinterpreted the Clean Air Act.

But no.

As part of the enduring statist desire to penetrate ever deeper into every nook and cranny of our lives, Greens have wanted to find a way for the government to regulate CO2, a natural byproduct of fire and breathing, for decades. Now they can.

That is why the White House will use Jackson as a Medusa’s head, to petrify cap-and-trade opponents with the prospect of something even worse: the effective seizing of the means of production. The White House says nothing of the sort is going on. Jackson, the former chief of staff to lame-duck New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, is an independent, disinterested public servant simply following sound science with no concern for politics.

If Jackson cares so much about sound science, why is she basing some of her policies on data from the discredited scientific frat house, the Climatic Research Unit?

If Jackson cares so little about politics, why did she make her announcement to such fanfare at the opening of Climapalooza in Copenhagen?

In fairness, Jackson is only a Medusa’s head to those who care desperately about economic growth and who don’t think draconian taxes on energy and massive wealth transfers for white elephants in the Third World are the answer to our problems. But for others, she represents another icon from Greek mythology: the Golden Fleece.

Jason and his Argonauts set out to find the fleece so they might place Jason on the throne of Iolcus. The original story is one of power-seeking in a noble cause.

It’s debatable whether the modern tale of Jackson and the Goregonauts is quite so noble. But it’s obvious they’re interested in power and hell-bent on fleecing.

Indeed, some of loudest voices have a weird habit of telegraphing their priorities. Tim Wirth, a former Senator and now chairman of the United Nations Foundation, once said: “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” New York Times columnist and prominent warm-monger Thomas Friedman has repeatedly said (most recently this week) that he doesn’t care if global warming is a “hoax” because even if it is, the fear of it will force us to do what we need to do.

And it just so happens that with the exception of nuclear power – which most greens still won’t support – global warming fuels nearly every progressive ambition. Wealth transfers from rich to poor nations: Check. The rise of “global governance” and the decline of American sovereignty: Check. A secular fatwa not only to erode capitalism but to intrude on every aspect of our lives (Greenpeace offers a guide to carbon-neutral sex): Check. Weaning us off of oil (which, don’t let the Goregonauts fool you, was a priority back when we were still worried about global cooling): Check. The checks go on for as far as the eye can see, and we will be writing them for years to come.

© 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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