EPA to Continue With Greenhouse Gas Limits Unless Congress Intervenes, Jackson Says

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The Environmental Protection Agency will continue with plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources unless Congress intervenes, Administrator Lisa Jackson said Nov. 29.

“We're going to use the Clean Air Act as we were ordered to do by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Jackson said, speaking at an event sponsored by the Aspen Institute marking the 40th anniversary of EPA's founding.

Jackson described EPA's actions as “sensible, common-sense, step-wise, in many cases moderate rules that together add up to measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

“They also add up to measurable reductions in other pollutants,” she said. “So we're going to continue that work.”

“Obviously if the law changes, the first thing we do is follow the law,” Jackson said. “We're going to do what the law says.”

Jackson's comments came as Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) the same day told Jackson that House Republicans plan to initiate “a top-to-bottom evaluation of the criteria used by EPA to initiate, develop, and finalize its myriad of rules and regulations” in the 112th Congress, with a special focus on its decision to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. (See related story in this issue.)

Several measures have been introduced in both houses of Congress to curtail EPA authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and Republicans in Congress have pledged to advance such legislation in the new Congress (221 DEN A-10, 11/18/10).

Industry Calls for Certainty.

While legislation for a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions is off the table in the new Congress, President Obama has said he wants Congress to take up energy legislation in smaller parts.

“My hope is that in time, the country will come back and face legislation, but in the meantime we're continuing to do what we have already,” Jackson said. She mentioned regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks, which she said “is widely embraced,” so much so that EPA is in the process of extending it and applying it to heavy-duty trucks and buses (226 DEN A-7, 11/26/10).

More than 100 lawsuits have been filed by states and industry groups challenging EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Industry groups have said the regulations will place extraordinary burdens on them and destroy jobs.

Jeffrey Holmstead, a former EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, told reporters at the event that many in the business community would accept reasonable carbon dioxide regulation that would give them certainty.

However, the way EPA is implementing greenhouse gas emissions regulation subjects businesses to a much more complicated emissions permitting process that can significantly delay improvements to facilities or construction of new ones, and exposes them to new challenges from environmental groups, Holmstead said.

“Any project that has any kind of organized opposition, which is the case for almost any energy project, is going to be dragged out for a long time,” Holmstead said.

By Steven D. Cook