Wednesday, 31 March 2010

EPA Confirms Delay in Permit Requirement for Carbon Dioxide

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that power plants, refineries and other businesses emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide won't be required to file for emissions permits before January 2011, confirming a decision the agency signaled last month.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has faced strong pressure in recent months from state regulators, lawmakers and various industry groups to delay moves to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from steel mills, cement kilns, the petroleum industry and other stationary sources. States said they lacked the necessary resources to handle an expected boost in permitting, while businesses said they needed time to prepared for the new rules.
Businesses are worried about the potential costs of monitoring and curbing emissions of greenhouse gases—those believed to contribute to global warming—which the EPA is moving to regulate under the Clean Air Act.
The Obama administration is expected to announce later this week final rules for regulating carbon dioxide from cars and trucks—effectively increasing the average fuel economy target for vehicle fleets to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The standard for model year 2011, which begins officially this fall, is 27.3 miles per gallon. Most major auto makers have already agreed to the higher 2016 target, as part of a deal to block California and other states from establishing their own vehicle fuel-efficiency targets.
Ms. Jackson had told lawmakers in a letter last month of her intention to delay greenhouse-gas rules for factories, refineries and power plants. The EPA said it would issue the regulations on stationary sources of emissions later this spring. The EPA said it planned to phase in the regulations, starting with the biggest emitters next year and the smallest businesses after 2016.
William Becker, head of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said providing nine additional months for states to revise their clean-air laws and regulations would allow agencies to align their programs with the federal permitting rules.
That would assure "a smooth and rational transition to the daunting but important challenges of regulating greenhouse gases from industrial facilities," he said.
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