Greg Abbott’s Hot Air

Your elected officials at work

“Congress did not authorize the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. One of the key greenhouse gases the EPA is regulating is carbon dioxide. It is almost the height of insanity of bureaucracy to have the EPA regulating something that is emitted by all living things,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Well, maybe we should stop regulating shit too.

But in all seriousness, it’s hard to believe that Abbott believes his own nonsense. The EPA is regulating carbon dioxide because the concentrations in the atmosphere are at dangerous levels. The agency is not proposing to regulate carbon dioxide from plants; it’s looking to regulate CO2 from major industrial sources.

Plants are not the problem. Indeed, plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Oxygen, necessary (obviously) for human life, is a byproduct of photosynthesis. In turn, plants and animals oxidize these carbohydrates to unlock energy for growth and other life functions. A byproduct of this process, respiration, is carbon dioxide. But – and here’s the key – these two fundamental cycles are in balance, at least during the stretch of time relevant to humankind.

There is a fundamental difference between the CO2 created by plants during respiration and the unlocking of billions of tons of CO2 held in fossil fuels. Boiling it down, this is a case of too much of a good thing. Of course, life on Earth depends on carbon dioxide. But too much CO2 threatens life as we know it. Not that hard to understand. It’s hard to believe that Abbott doesn’t get the distinction.

It’s also “almost the height of insanity” to complain that Congress did not authorize the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. That issue was settled by the Supreme Court of the United States in Massachusetts vs EPA. I’m sure he remembers this little case since Abbott, representing the state of Texas, was on the losing side. A 5-4 majority of the court found that the EPA could regulate climate-altering gasses, reasoning that “greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of air pollutant.”

Abbott’s comments to KUT come after his third failed attempt to block the EPA taking over greenhouse gas permitting in Texas. He can’t win in the court of law. I don’t think he’s going to win in court of public opinion, either, with this malarkey.

Forrest Wilder, a native of Wimberley, Texas, is the editor of the Observer.

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Published at 12:02 am CST