President Obama set off a guessing game this week as to what he intended with his inaugural promise to double down on climate change. There’s no need to guess. California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the Senate’s climate guru, was happy to fill in the gory details.
The president’s climate shout-out sent the green community into flurries of ecstasy, with grand hopes of a new push for cap-and-trade in Congress, or of a redoubled U.S. commitment to a global carbon pact. It fell to Mrs. Boxer to tamp down those ambitions, even as she reassured her devotees that there is more than one way to skin the climate cat.
"A lot of you press me . . . on: ‘Where is the bill on climate change? Where is the bill?’ There doesn’t have to be a bill," Mrs. Boxer explained in a briefing the day after Mr. Obama’s speech. "I’m telling you right now, EPA has the authority in the transportation sector, the electricity sector, and the industrial sector under the Clean Air Act" to do everything that legislation might otherwise do.