At long last, a man nominated to head the EPA actually thinks the U.S. Constitution is relevant to EPA regulations. Scott Pruitt has shown by his actions as Oklahoma’s attorney general that he takes the Constitution seriously.
Critics have called him a climate change denier. He’s not. He’s a climate change skeptic. There’s a big difference.
It makes no sense to deny that the climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The real issue is what mankind’s effect on the climate is. Specifically, can we be sure that, say, a 20 parts per million increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause a discernible increase in the Earth’s temperature? We can’t. Some climate models that were created some years ago predicted a temperature that is substantially higher than the actual temperature we observe. The models are simply not well enough developed to give us much confidence.
Although I have never met the man, Scott Pruitt seems to understand this.
Should we worry that he will roll back regulations that keep our air and water clean? Probably not. The main improvements in our air and water quality have been achieved for some time. The EPA is working, at best, at the margins. Each additional small increase in air and water quality can be achieved at a higher cost than the previous increase. Past some point, the marginal cost exceeds the marginal benefit.
Moreover, there are low-hanging fruit to be picked in abolishing, or at least modifying, some regulations in which the EPA has a big role.
Take the Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations. Please. These rules make our cars more expensive and less safe. Although the Transportation Department is responsible for the CAFE standards, President Obama’s EPA pushed hard to raise them. They are due to be ratcheted down.