The Washington Post asks Heritage analyst Ben Lieberman: “Do you think EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health will prod Congress to agree on its own method for limiting emissions? If not, what do you think would be the environmental and economic impact of the EPA regulations? Will this convince other countries that the U.S. is likely to make deep cuts in carbon in the near future?”

Lieberman responds:

It says a lot that the only global warming policy with legs right now is the one least subject to public accountability.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gasses endanger public health allows unelected bureaucrats to do what our elected officials have thus far declined to do – crack down on fossil fuel use in the name of addressing global warming.

This regulatory end run around cap-and-trade legislation, which is stalled in the Senate, is the only thing preventing President Obama from going to the Copenhagen climate conference completely empty-handed. Beyond encouraging treaty negotiations, the threat of EPA regulations is also being used as a stick to prod along domestic legislation.

Even EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has admitted that the Clean Air Act is not well set up to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, saying that legislation is the preferred route. A million or more small businesses, farms and property owners could eventually be hit with a costly, intrusive, and time-consuming regulatory burden, and for little benefit in terms of reduced emissions.

The threat of very bad regulations should not spur slightly less bad legislation or a treaty. Global warming policy that imposes costs well in excess of benefits should be rejected, no matter what form it takes.

The fact that EPA has relied heavily on the very same science implicated in Climategate — leak of e-mails and other documents showing gross misconduct amongst many key global warming scientists — is further reason why the regulatory process should not proceed.