NewEnergyNews: EPA TO MAKE BIG MOVE ON EMISSIONS IN MID-APRIL

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    Monday, March 30, 2009

    EPA TO MAKE BIG MOVE ON EMISSIONS IN MID-APRIL

    Leaked Memo: EPA Planning Historic Action on Global Warming in April
    Bruce Nilles, March 17, 2009 (AlterNet)

    SUMMARY
    A leaked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document shows that the agency will "fast-track" action on emissions. EPA will issue a "finding that global warming threatens both public health and welfare."

    Issued under the authority of a 2007 Supreme Court decision, the finding will allow the agency to take further steps to control emissions.

    EPA will, according to the leaked document, issue the finding April 16. A 60-day public comment period and 2 public hearings will follow.

    This leak from EPA follows recent good news just announced by the agency that it will institute a required complete national reporting system for greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions by large emitters (greater than 25,000 tons per year).

    The “endangerment” finding is another indication of the Obama administration’s commitment to fighting climate change.

    The Obama EPA appears headed toward a complete reversal of the agency’s performance under President Bush, when EPA refused to act on the Supreme Court decision.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    The EPA move is based on an April 2, 2007, Supreme Court decision (Massachusetts v. EPA). The decision found that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant under the terms of the Clean Air Act and required EPA to determine whether CO2 endangered public health or welfare. If so, EPA must regulate CO2 emissions.

    The EPA action is expected to have 2 important effects. The first, obviously, will be to force a change in the way power plants and other major GhG emitters do business.

    This is especially invigorating for the grassroots movement dedicated to stopping the use of coal as a source of energy.

    click to enlarge

    By stipulating it would not impose emissions-reporting burdens on smaller businesses, the EPA negated the charge often made that EPA regulations unduly hamper small businesses.

    The second effect of the action will be to make more likely an EPA grant of the waiver requested by California (and joined by 13 other states comprising nearly 40% of the car market) for the right to institute a vehicle tailpipe emissions standard stronger than the national standard established by the 2007 energy bill.

    Vehicle spew is ~20% of total U.S. GhG emissions

    click to enlarge

    Taken together, these EPA actions represent a signal to Congress that if it does not pass potent climate change legislation, legal action can be taken.

    QUOTES
    - Bruce Nilles, Director, Sierra Club Move Beyond Coal Campaign: “This is very big, very historic, very exciting news -- this action by EPA will set the stage for the first-ever national regulation of CO2 in US history.”

    click to enlarge

    - From the EPA, on its recently announced emissions reporting requirements: "The new reporting requirements would apply to suppliers of fossil fuel and industrial chemicals, manufacturers of motor vehicles and engines, as well as large direct emitters of greenhouse gases with emissions equal to or greater than a threshold of 25,000 metric tons per year….The vast majority of small businesses would not be required to report their emissions because their emissions fall well below the threshold."
    - Nilles, Sierra Club Move Beyond Coal Campaign: “The Bush administration unlawfully ignored the decision for nearly two years, continuing its long campaign of denial, obfuscation, and foot-dragging on global warming and other key environmental issues.”

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