Sneaking In Radical Policy Via Regulation

By March 24, 2008Global Warming

The National Association of Manufacturers has joined the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others in opposing an effort by the Sierra Club to dramatically expand the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency over facilities that emit carbon dioxide. As our news release explains, we filed a brief with the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board supporting the issues of a construction permit to the Bonanza coal-fired power plant in Utah. The case is In re: Deseret Power Cooperative (PSD Appeal No. 07-03).

Environmentalists want to use the permitting process as a way to prevent new power plant construction, even when the Clean Air Act never envisioned its application against carbon dioxide emissions. And power plants are stationary sources, not mobile ones like automobiles that were at issue in Massachusetts v. EPA. As the NAM’s Quentin Riegel argues:

Big-box stores, schools, fast-food restaurants – the number and type of facilities requiring EPA permits would explode if the Sierra Club gets its way. Even slight changes to these facilities or plans for new structures would require Clean Air Act pre-construction permits under the ‘Prevention of Significant Deterioration’ program.

Also on our brief (which is available here) are the American Chemistry Council, the American Royalty Council, the National Oilseed Processors Assocaition, and the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association.

Separately, free market groups last week also entered into the fray. The Competitive Enterprise Institute sent out a news release linking to the amicus brief from the critics of regulatory overreach. CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis cut to the chase, calling the Sierra Club’s petition preposterous.

The issue in Mass. v. EPA was whether EPA had to regulate CO2 emissions from new motor vehicles, under Section 202, a provision dealing solely with mobile source emissions. The Court specifically said it was not ordering EPA to establish new tailpipe standards, nor even that EPA had to issue or deny an endangerment finding regarding CO2, only that EPA’s action or inaction must be grounded in the statute. In no way, shape, or form, did the Court tell EPA it had to regulate CO2 emissions from stationary sources, such as the Bonanza power plant.

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