By Jessica M. Sibley

A decision made by the Environmental Protection Agency this week has sparked a heated response from local lawmakers.

On Monday, the EPA classified six greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride — as pollutants that threaten the well being of American citizens.

In turn, this decision is expected to compel the federal government — unless it is nixed by Congress — to better regulate emissions of greenhouse gases for the first time under the 1970 Clean Air Act.

But the decision doesn’t sit will with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“I continue to believe regulation of carbon by unaccountable bureaucrats at the EPA is the worst possible outcome,” he said. “Jobs will be lost and in some cases industries will be regulated out of business. EPA regulators will not consider expanding nuclear energy or offshore drilling, the exact provisions that I am pushing to have included in congressional legislation.”

In addition, state Rep. Bill Sandifer said this decision could be detrimental across the board.

“The main problem I have is this decision has been made by people who have not been elected,” he said. “They are true bureaucrats. Their actions are arbitrary and will be harmful to the business community and to the majority of our state citizens.”

And when it comes to paying for power, Sandifer noted a potential increase that would make people cringe.

“When it comes to our existing state utilities, I think it’s a disaster,” he said. “With South Carolina’s dependence on fossil fuels and coal to generate electrical power, this decision will create a situation where either the coal fired plants will be not operated at all, or there will be such a penalty on the discharge that it will dramatically increase the rates for power.

“And I’m talking at least by 20 percent of more,” he added.

The government already controls releases of sulfur dioxide, ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide under the law.

“Regardless of whether you view climate change as a real threat or some grand hoax, carbon is eventually going to be regulated. As a conservative, I believe the proper venue to set the rules is through the people’s elected representatives in the Congress, not unelected bureaucrats at the EPA.,” Graham said.

“Done correctly, we can address these issues in a way that benefits our economy, national security and environment. And South Carolina, through our many investments in research and technology, has a golden opportunity to lead the pack. We are positioned to be one of the states to benefit the most from clean energy legislation.” | (864) 882-2375