November 18, 2008

Is the Endangered Species Act really one of "nation's biggest steps to date on climate policy"?

By Is the Endangered Species Act really one of "nation's biggest steps to date on climate policy"?

From Eric Baerren, a writer for the North Star Writers Group:

If Obama directs his new EPA administrator to craft a scheme to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, and overturns the Bush rule on the Endangered Species Act, what would emerge as the new U.S. policy on global warming would have one primary father – Congressman John Dingell of Michigan.

Congressman Dingell was apparently instrumental in getting the Endangered Species Act through Congress. On his website, he states that "I wrote the Endangered Species Act and seeing it signed into law was among my proudest moments as a Member of Congress."

It seems that it would be worthwhile, then, to ask the Congressman about Baerren's prediction. For instance, when he wrote the Endangered Species Act, was Congressman Dingell aware of global warming and/or climate change? If so, why weren't these issues explicitly mentioned and addressed in the ESA?

If not, how would he justify the use of the ESA to combat one of the most significant policy questions of our day, when that question was not even a concern when the ESA was enacted? Similarly, how exactly can the ESA be used to address global warming?

The last question is especially important because, as a member of the legislative branch, Dingell and other members of Congress are supposed to set out our nation's environmental policy. Yet more and more environmental decisions are being made by the courts, not our elected representatives, such as Dingell.  And if the questions raised above are ever answered, they are answered by a judge, rather than by the people in the form of an open and honest debate in Congress.

Despite the importance of these issues, we would be shocked (albeit pleasantly surprised) if these questions were actually posed to and answered by Congressman Dingell.

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