Biden should insist that the 'lawmakers' make the law

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Biden should insist that the 'lawmakers' make the law

At a gala last month celebrating its 50th anniversary and its membership of three million, the Natural Resources Defense Council listed some of its

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At a gala last month celebrating its 50th anniversary and its membership of three million, the Natural Resources Defense Council listed some of its major environmental protection accomplishments. The first listed was pushing Washington to ban lead additives to gasoline. As the staff attorney who headed this campaign, I felt proud. Yet, I also felt sad because our courtroom victories sped the ban far less than Congress had delayed it by faking responsibility. The resulting deaths and brain damage illustrate why President Biden should insist Congress force itself to vote on major regulations.

When drafting the Clean Air Act in 1970, Congress knew that cars starting with the 1975 models must not use leaded gasoline because it would ruin the equipment needed to comply with limits on other pollutants. The tough choice was whether to cut the lead in the gas burnt by pre-1975 cars, 100 million of which would still be on the road in 1975.  In opposition, gasoline refiners and lead additive makers argued that cuts would increase motorists’ costs and were unnecessary to protect health. Instead of deciding, Congress required the Environment Protection Agency to “protect health” by 1976. That way, the legislators got credit for protecting health but shifted responsibility to the EPA for any costs or the failure to protect health. 

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