CO2 regulation to proceed in U.S. without climate bill

The EPA is poised to act on regulating carbon dioxide emissions, with or without the Senate.

The United States Senate may be deadlocked over how to proceed on climate change legislation, but the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is proceeding with its work to curb carbon emissions - even without Congressional action.

On Thursday, U.S. Senate Democrats announced that they would delay action on a climate bill that would impose greenhouse gas limits until the fall, according to reports. While Congress deliberates, the EPA has already classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and is poised to regulate it.

The EPA is obligated to act to regulate CO2 emissions due to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2007 ruling in the case Massachusetts v. EPA, which classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant, TIME's political columnist noted in his blog on Friday. The case was brought on by a group of 12 states and some local governments that sought to force the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses from motor vehicles.

Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell told Klein that a climate bill that puts a price on carbon was the only alternative to harsh EPA regulation. Cantwell joined Maine Republican Susan Collins in co-sponsoring the Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal (CLEAR) Act.

The CLEAR act would require the 2000 top polluters in the U.S. to purchase rights to emit CO2, with 75 percent of the proceeds being distributed among taxpayers as a dividend and the remainder being invested into alternative energy projects, Klein explained.

Klein also quoted Republican Senator Lindsey Graham as previously having said: "There's no question that we will have a bill before the EPA regulations kick in."

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