LeadingRepublican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both say they willhave the U.S. EPA reconsider its determination that carbon dioxide emissionspose a threat to public health and welfare, a finding that enabled the U.S. EPAto form federal climate regulations for the utility sector.
Trumpand Cruz made the pledge in their responses to a survey from the AmericanEnergy Alliance released March 30. The survey asked whether the candidateswould review EPA's endangerment finding after "many scientific studies andadditional information on global warming have come to light" since 2007.That is the year that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Massachusettsv. EPA that the EPA was wrong in concluding that it lacks the legalauthority to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from new motorvehicles, and in refusing to exercise that authority.
TheEPA under the Obama administration later determined carbon emissions endangerpublic health and welfare, a finding that withstood legal challenges, but the leading GOPcontenders for the White House vowed to revisit the issue if they win theNovember election.
"The observed temperatureevidence does not support the claims that carbon dioxide is dangerous. Morerecent scientific developments indicate that a review of the endangermentfinding is needed," Cruz said.
Areversal of EPA's endangerment finding would undermine the main legalfoundation of EPA's authority to regulate carbon emissions from the electricpower sector. The Obama administration used that authority to craft itsClean Power Plan forlowering carbon output from existing power plants. The Supreme Court the rule in earlyFebruary until legal challenges are resolved, but the plan is estimated to cutpower sector CO2 emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030 if the rule isupheld and compliance deadlines are not pushed back as a result of the stay.
Intheir survey responses, both GOP frontrunners said the Clean Power Planrepresented regulatory "overreach" that would hurt the U.S. economy.Cruz said President Barack Obama should not impose the regulation without "explicitauthorization from Congress." Trump vowed to review "all EPA rules"if elected and eliminate "any regulation that imposes undue costs onbusiness enterprises." The statements were softer than campaign pledges from Trump inwhich he said he may put EPA on the chopping block altogether.
Althougha new EPA administration could revisit the endangerment finding, the EPA hascompiled a "humongous and incredibly powerful record" affirmingcarbon emissions' risks, NRDC Action Fund senior adviser David Doniger said.
"Iam very confident that a reversal of the endangerment determination would bethrown out as arbitrary and capricious" by the courts, Doniger said.
Trumpand Cruz also rejected the idea of a carbon tax and the use of a social cost ofcarbon in federal rulemakings. They also said the EPA and U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers exceeded their authority with the Clean Water Rule, which defineswaters subject to federal regulation and was put on hold by a federal appeals courts in October 2015.
Thetwo candidates differed slightly though on other energy policy issues. Eachexpressed a desire to eventually phase out all energy subsidies and supportedgreater transparency on the scientific assumptions and data used in federalrulemakings.
ButCruz took a harder-line stance on issues such as federal land management andthe renewable fuel standard, which mandates the use of a certain amount ofbiofuels and other alternative fuels along with traditional fossil-based ones.The Texas senator repeated his support for repealing the renewable fuel standard through afive-year phase-out. He also said the federal government owns "far toomuch land" and should divest most of its current holdings throughtransfers to states or sales to private individuals.
Trumpsaid the renewable fuel standard should not be phased out "at this time"and that the country should support "all energy sources" until it canachieve total energy independence. And rather than selling federal land tostates and private enterprises, Trump promoted a "shared governancestructure with the states" that would "allow for maintaining theaesthetics of the land while finding ways to gain revenue that would benefitboth the federal and state governments."
Inits questionnaire, the American Energy Alliance said the four main federalland-owning agencies — the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. ForestService, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service — ownor manage about 755 million acres of onshore subsurface mineral estate and 1.76billion acres on the outer continental shelf, which combined exceed the totalsurface land area of Canada. At current usage rates, federal lands contain over200 years' worth of recoverable oil reserves, over 100 years of natural gas andenough coal to last more than 400 years, the group said.
Thealliance also sent the survey to GOP contestant John Kasich, as well asDemocratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but has yet to hearback from them.