Attacking global warming through cap-and-trade legislation would likely result in quicker results than regulations would produce, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
The MPCA's air quality chief, David Thornton, was responding to Monday's announcement by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that it is declaring greenhouse gases to be a threat to public health and welfare. That so-called endangerment finding means the agency can regulate sources of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Thornton said the regulatory approach presents a major pitfall.
"Producing greenhouse gas regulations, there's a very strong likelihood that EPA will face lawsuits every step of the way, which always take a long time to resolve," Thornton said. "They take years and years to resolve."
Thornton said if Congress produces an effective cap-and-trade law, it could also minimize the cost of cutting greenhouse gases.
Businesses are reacting cautiously to the news.
Mike Robertson advises the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce on environmental issues. He said many businesses would prefer a market-based approach like the cap-and-trade program being debated in Congress.
"If the EPA is going to do it all in a regulatory approach, and we don't know what that would look like and how it would work, but it's likely to be much more costly than a market-based approach," Robertson said.
The EPA says global warming will bring more deadly heat waves, and more pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases.