Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Volokh correction #4

From the Volokh Conspiracy blog, Juan Non-Volokh again describes the Bush Administration's Clear Skies Act as better than the current Clean Air Act, and criticizes enviro opposition to Clear Skies. He's wrong, mainly because he attacks the other side's evidence while providing no evidence to back up his own position.

His main argument relies on a Washington Monthly article stating:

John Kerry summed up the conventional wisdom on the left during his second debate with President Bush by observing that Clear Skies is “one of those Orwellian na- mes. . . . If they just left the Clean Air Act all alone the way it is today—no change—the air would be cleaner than it is if you passed the Clear Skies Act.” In fact, this oft-repeated green bromide turns out to be false.

Clearing a path through the disorganization of that article eventually gets you to the heart of the argument. Enviros are relying on an EPA government document showing the current Clean Air Act is stricter than Clear Skies, but this document was supposedly, deliberately skewed to make the Clean Air Act look tough so that the power companies would support a version of the Clear Skies program. In effect the Clear Sky supporters are saying, "we lied to industry in this document to get their support, so you shouldn't hold us now to those numbers we used."

I'm not well-disposed to allow the government to casually lie and then change the lie when it suits them. We lawyers would say they should be "estopped" from doing that. But let's be generous and say it's possible this EPA document was exaggerated - the Washington Monthly article provides no evidence that Clear Skies is a better outcome. What should the document have stated? No answer from the article, or from the Volokhs.

Juan says "Compared against any set of realistic assumptions . . . Clear Skies would clearly result in greater emissions reductions." He provides nothing to back up this argument.

P.S. Here's the comparison from original EPA numbers. Let's see what numbers the anti-enviros can produce.

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