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A Loose Cannon in the EPA

By Isaac MacMillen

Jon Cannon wants to suck the air out of the economy, and unless he is held up by the Senate, they may be giving tacit approval to his radical agenda.

Cannon, newly nominated Deputy EPA Administrator, has risen from the ranks of academia, and is poised to assume the number two position in the Environmental Protection Agency.

However, the praise that might normally be bestowed upon one nominated for an influential office must be tempered as his radical environmental views become known. And in the end, the Senate must look long and hard at the consequences that are sure to follow his tenure and decide if the nation is willing—or able—to pay the cost.

Presently at the University of Virginia, Jon Cannon is a Blaine T. Phillips Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law. He is no stranger to government, or the EPA for that matter. From 1992 through 1998, he served in the agency as an administrator and then general counsel.

It was in 1998 that Mr. Cannon wrote a legal opinion arguing that the Clean Air Act permitted regulation of greenhouse gases. This opinion was relied upon by the plaintiffs in Massachusetts v. EPA, the 2007 decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that CO2 was in fact an “air pollutant” and therefore must be regulated by the EPA—largely agreeing with what Cannon had argued, in expanding the definition of “air pollutant” to include more than just emissions that “enter” the air, and including CO2, a naturally-occurring gas.

In a 2007 article discussing the case (and his indirect involvement), Professor Cannon makes a statement which should alarm the ears of any citizen concerned about government expansion. He states:

“Environmentalism is associated with certain values—values that emphasize acting collectively for the common good and fitting harmoniously into the natural and social environment. Environmentalists generally favor regulation to prevent or correct the widespread harms they see in the world.”

Such a view of government is alarming. Phrases such as “acting collectively for the common good” is reminiscent of regimes which, while mouthing such words, acted in the interests of only the top few, or in some misguided manner to servicer a utopian agenda.

Viewing regulation as a solution to human problems—especially contrived ones such as “man-made” climate change—is not only to reject the basic tenets of liberty upon which this nation was founded, but presupposes that the government is 'purer' and 'less harmful,' as it supposedly possesses the moral authority to impose such regulations.

Mr. Cannon's support of heavy environmental regulations clearly bodes ill for the private sector. His view of carbon gas as a pollutant that must be regulated by the environment is extremely disturbing, and will severely harm American industry should he be confirmed.

During a recession, increasing the regulatory burden on the very building blocks of our economy is unwise, at best. Most likely, it will prove destructive to carbon-emitting industries, namely, energy producers: coal, oil, shale oil, and natural gas.

Additionally, the drastic measures sure to be mandated would be done so without a solid backing of evidence. If the Democrats complained about the Bush Administration's supposed “rush to war” based on “faulty intelligence,” wait until they see the Obama Administration's “rush to regulate” based on “faulty science.” And sadly, the cost will be very high.

Unleashing Mr. Cannon will blow a hole through much of the progress Western industry has made in the past hundred years.

Even worse than the radical action he wishes to take on behalf of the environment, however, is the underlying principle behind it—government can solve the errors perpetrated by the human race simply through increased regulation. That is antithetical to the ideals of personal liberty enshrined in our Constitution, and the Senate must take appropriate action to ensure that he is held fully accountable for this dangerous ideology.

The nation demands it. And before all the wind is taken out of the sails of the economy, the Senate must pause to reconsider the radical environmentalist agenda.

Isaac MacMillen is a Contributing Editor to ALG News Bureau.


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