EPA Prepares for Regulating Industry’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By March 29, 2010Energy, Global Warming, Regulations

Today the Environmental Protection Agency took another step toward regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act. Administrator Lisa Jackson issued a final decision on the so-called Johnson Memo, which outlines when EPA’s controls on greenhouse gas emissions will actually take effect.  Although the decision states that new regulations will become effective no sooner than January 2011, EPA is clearly preparing to regulate GHG emissions from industrial facilities. According to EPA, “construction and operating permit requirements for the largest emitting facilities will begin when the first national rule controlling GHGs takes effect.” EPA further states that if “finalized as proposed,’’ the tailpipe rule for cars and trucks “would trigger these requirements in January 2011.” This is the earliest date on which vehicles complying with the new emission standards can be sold in the American market, which EPA has argued will “trigger” requirements on industrial facilities.

EPA’s action today not only paves the way for regulating stationary sources but also underscores the uncertainty and complexity of implementing a federal climate policy under the Clean Air Act. Not only is EPA delaying final release of the “tailoring rule” for industrial sources — a rule that regulators have been planning to release by March 31 — but it is also delaying the effective date “until at least January 2012.” (EPA Fact Sheet)

Federal regulators are still attempting to sort through the complexity of regulating industrial sources; in today’s statement, EPA says it will release details surrounding the tailoring rule “later this spring.” In addition, a White House review conducted by the Office of Management and Budget is a prerequisite for finalizing a regulation. If there’s any certainty at all in this complex process, it is that federal agencies are not backing down from their agenda to expand the scope of their regulatory powers.

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