Issue Date: January 3, 2011
EPA Sets Schedule For CO2 Regulation
By midyear 2012, refineries and fossil-fuel-fired electric utilities will be required to begin lowering their greenhouse gas emissions under a recent court settlement reached by the Environmental Protection Agency and several states and environmental groups. Refineries and power plants are responsible for 40% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, EPA said when making the announcement on Dec. 23.
Under the settlement, EPA will use Clean Air Act regulations to propose emissions standards for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011 and to issue final regulations in May and November 2012, respectively.
EPA has not determined what the standards will be, however, and the agency said the lengthy schedule allows it to host several “listening sessions” with businesses, states, and other stakeholders early in 2011 as it draws up actual regulations.
“We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement. The standards, she added, will provide clarity and help U.S. companies attract private investments needed to fund the clean energy upgrades.
A host of fossil-fuel trade associations, manufacturers, and other industry representatives blasted the agency’s plans, saying it would be expensive and would drive jobs and manufacturing to other nations. The new chairman of the House of Representatives’ Energy & Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (R-Mich.), promised aggressive committee oversight of EPA and called the plan “a backdoor attempt to implement [the Administration’s] failed job-killing cap-and-trade scheme.”
Efforts to stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act have been led by chemical companies, manufacturers, and their allies in Congress and are likely to continue this year.
The Administration’s approach, however, has been defended by several states and environmental groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is one of the litigants. NRDC called the settlement terms “precisely what is needed to protect our health and welfare and provide businesses certainty.
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