The Heritage Foundation applauds the announcement by EPA administrator Stephen Johnson that the agency will respond to the Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. EPA decision by issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on the question of regulating carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. It is critical not to impose unnecessary regulatory costs on the economy, as would surely be the case if the agency took irreversible steps to regulate at this time, in uncertain economic times this is all the more true. Thus, an ANPR, which will allow for public comment without committing the agency to a specific outcome, is the best course of action.

Of particular concern is the spillover impact of any regulation of motor vehicles, namely measures that will lead to severe restrictions on a million or more small businesses and farms. The Clean Air Act’s structure virtually ensures that a costly regulatory Pandora’s box will be opened, which is the last thing the nation needs right now. The ANPR will allow for comment on the economic implications of various options open to EPA, as well as other critical issues such as the impact of the recently passed Energy Independence and Security Act on the need to further regulate motor vehicles. EPA’s announcement is entirely consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision, which neither set a deadline for the agency to act nor required it to undertake a particular course of action.