During a question-and-answer period at the America First Energy Conference in Houston this month, an audience member had an inquiry for panelists at a session billed as one of the day’s most important.
Why not sue the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions? After all, CO2 is essential to all life on earth, he noted.
Harry MacDougald, an attorney on the panel, smiled and pointed to David Schnare, a former member of President Donald Trump‘s EPA transition team who had a combative relationship with climate scientists during his more than three decades at the agency. Schnare also smiled before leaning into the mic.
“We’re going to do that. It won’t be everybody on Earth, but … I think we’re going to look at specific farmers, large farmers who are harmed by reductions in CO2. I think that’s where we’re going,” Schnare said.
“The endangerment finding is the root of all global warming evil at the EPA.”
The idea of suing the EPA on behalf of farmers is just one of several strategies that conservatives are pursuing in their quest for the holy grail of environmental deregulation. That prize is revoking the EPA’s endangerment finding, the 2009 determination that requires the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
That finding says carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, which trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet, endanger public health and welfare. The endangerment finding underpinned President Barack Obama‘s efforts to control emissions from automobiles, power plants, oil and gas wells and other sources.
It’s little surprise, then, that the finding loomed over the entire America First Energy Conference, hosted by the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that has worked for years to undermine the consensus among climate scientists that human-caused emissions are the primary driver of global warming.
A major goal of the conference, preceded by a day of closed-door strategy sessions, was to continue assembling the scaffolding that will make it easier for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, himself a climate change skeptic, to tear down the endangerment finding. He has so far been reluctant to take up the task.