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The Epa Slowly Ups The Pressure On Congress

It's been a hectic week and blogging here has been scant—with any luck, next week should be better. But I don't want to go without mentioning two of the biggest environmental-policy stories of the week. As Kate Sheppard reports at Grist, the EPA just unveiled a plan that would require some 13,000 large polluters in the United States to measure and report their greenhouse emissions (small businesses would be exempt)—the first step toward implementing a nationwide carbon cap. After all, you don't want to implement a cap without knowing how much CO2 pollution is actually out there—poor measurements were one of the reasons Europe's emissions-trading system stumbled early on.

Meanwhile, the EPA could issue a finding on whether global warming poses a threat to people by as early as mid-April. Presumably they'll answer with, "Yes, it does," and at that point, it would trigger a process for the agency to start regulating carbon-dioxide emissions (although the latter would be a relatively drawn-out process—rulemaking, public comment, hearings, and so forth). As we've mentioned before, this is going to put a lot of pressure on Congress to draft and pass its own climate policy, rather than leave things up to Lisa Jackson and the EPA.

--Bradford Plumer