The head administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Friday it was her job to create overarching regulations as an alternative to the carbon tax legislation the Obama administration was unable to pass last year.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told activists and diplomats at a gathering in Washington that the agency was tasked with forming a seemingly never-ending amount of environmental regulations because President Barack Obama failed to pass the kind of “elegant” legislation needed to comply with last year’s climate change deal in Paris.
She noted that while the agency does not have the ability to enact a carbon tax, it can create an approximate facsimile through its regulatory efforts.
“There are many ways you can place a price on carbon, I think regulation is one of them,” McCarthy said, after being asked about the possibility of creating a nationwide tax on carbon emissions.
The EPA cannot regulate every nook and cranny of the economy, she said, but that doesn’t mean Congress can’t doing something in the future that does.
She explained the agency has been toying with ways to wrap the economy in environmental regulations in order to create an alternative to the carbon taxes Obama failed to enact.
“The president spent a lot of time in his first term looking at whether or not you could do something broader through the legislature. That didn’t happen,” she said.
McCarthy’s comments come less than a month after the EPA indicated it intends to implement core provisions in the so-called Clean Power Plan, despite the plan being stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court in February.
The change illustrates the degrees to which the EPA and McCarthy are willing to go to continue implementing the regulations.
The agency submitted a proposal to Obama for renewable energy subsidies for states that meet the plan’s carbon emission reduction goals. It claims the decision was meant to give benefits to states that voluntarily ratchets down carbon emissions.
“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP,” reads a statement acquired by Politico.
The regulations, while not as exciting as the legislation Obama intended to pass, are still “strong” enough to send signals to the market, McCarthy told the audience members at the meeting.
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