Obama Gives EPA the Go-Ahead to Regulate Greenhouse Gases


Photo via Bullfrog Builders

Showing that he's serious about curbing emissions, Obama announced that he's moving ahead with plans for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. Specifically, "large industrial facilities" that emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year will require an operating permit for those emissions. If, after inspected, they haven't taken reasonable measures to reduce emissions, they could face fines. This is big news--it provides a strong incentive for Congress to pass a climate bill, and sends a signal to the world that the US is serious about climate action.From the New York Times:

Unwilling to wait for Congress to act, the Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it was moving forward on new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of power plants and large industrial facilities.
The EPA ruled that it had the ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions as a harmful pollutant months ago. But Obama always said that he much preferred to pass legislation in Congress, than regulate coal plants and factories individually through regulations--and that's still his stance now.

It should come as no surprised that this announcement was timed to coincide with the introduction of the Kerry-Boxer Senate climate bill. The move acts to put pressure on Congress to pass a climate bill--it's an "or-else" scenario. Like before, nobody wants to see factories and coal plants regulated one by one. But if Congress fails to pass a climate bill, the EPA can work to start reducing emissions in the country's heaviest polluters anyways.

It also seems to serve as a stopgap measure between now and Copenhagen, since the US likely won't have climate legislation--or emissions reduction commitments--passed by then. It shows that even without Congress, Obama is willing to start curbing emissions and transitioning to a clean energy economy.

The rules would take effect in 2011, and would target the 14,000 largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation (mostly coal plants and industrial factories).

From the EPA:

"By using the power and authority of the Clean Air Act, we can begin reducing emissions from the nation's largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy," said EPA Administrator Jackson. "This is a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources -- those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources.
This is good news, especially for the sign it sends to the global community--that our president is serious about fighting climate change.

More on the EPA and Climate Bill
EPA Study: Up to 62% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Influenced by Materials Management and Land Management
EPA Proposes First Nationwide Greenhouse Gas Reporting System

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