Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ante up

After yesterday's Supreme Court decision, I neglected to mention that just because the court says that the EPA has the ability to regulate carbon dioxide and tailpipe emissions, it almost certainly won't until there's a new president. I was having an argument with somebody about the real differences between the parties and I pointed out that traditional conservatives are wont to let executive departments sit without enforcing the laws on the books, whereas liberals are unlikely to relax enforcement. This is largely a matter of beliefs regarding the role of government. The President, as the enforcer of federal law can generally choose to enforce or not enforce, to a certain degree. Conservatives, with a traditionally Libertarian perspective that minimal government is good government, generally try to use the existing governmental apparatus as little as possible, or eliminate parts of it should the opportunity arise. This is how Reagan turned thousands of homeless and mentally ill folks out onto the street in the 1980s, by cutting off funding to Federal programs pretty much regardless. He was a fucking dickhead.

A good example of lax or delayed enforcement is Brown vs. Board of Education, which served to strike down segregation in 1954. However, functional desegretation didn't happen until Eisenhower was forced to act on behalf of the Little Rock Nine to protect them from Arkansas governor Orval Faubus in 1957. George Wallace was forcing the Feds to play their hand still in 1963 at the University of Alabama. Another example of the potential laxity in executive enforcement would be the secret White House plan (recently uncovered) to limit the number of species which can be protected under the Endangered Species Act. More info on this here.

Anyway, back to the court decision. The New York Times has a good graphic showing the states that have their own carbon dioxide caps or regulations. I'm posting it here, but you can't host New York Times graphics on imageshack for some reason, so the graphic will probably rot in a week or so:

Not surprisingly, most of these maps look a lot like this one, from back in 2004:

Edit: I should point out that the states which have ethanol initiatives include those in the midwest, because these are the big agricultural states. However, this seems not to correlate with emissions regulation. Ethanol is a renewable energy source, but it does not eliminate greenhouse gas emission. I am not sure if ethanol burns cleaner than other combustion fuels.

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