EPA accelerates action on climate change regulations

EPA accelerates action on climate change regulations

March 24, 2009 06:11

With only two months behind it since President Barack Obama took office and even less time since Lisa P. Jackson became the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the federal government has launched several significant climate change regulatory developments pending that, taken together, will reverse course and authorize climate change regulations even before the 111th Congress has a chance to act on the issues.

The key climate change regulatory initiatives underway are as follows:

·        On Jan. 26th, Obama issued a memorandum to Jackson directing her to re-visit the controversial December, 2007 decision of her predecessor declining to authorize the State of California’s application for a waiver under the Clean Air Act (CAA) that would allow California to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from new automobiles.  EPA is reportedly preparing to reverse course on the issue.  See this link for a copy of Obama’s directive: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential_Memorandum_EPA_Waiver/

·        On March 10th, the EPA proposed the first comprehensive mandatory national system for reporting emissions of GHGs produced by approximately 13,000 facilities that the EPA said account for 85% to 90% of U.S. GHG emissions. This regulation, which is pending for notice and comment, reaches all kinds of industrial facilities.  See this link for a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads/MRRPreamble.pdf

·        On March 23rd, EPA sought White House approval for a draft of its endangerment finding under the CAA that would respond formally to the U.S. Supreme Court’s April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA (which required EPA to issue an endangerment finding and proceed to regulate GHGs from new automobile exhaust unless it can show such exhaust is not harmful to human health and the environment) and lay the foundation for EPA regulation of GHGs under the CAA.

Separately, Obama recently named Connecticut Environmental Commissioner Gina McCarthy to join EPA as the Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. With McCarthy joining Jackson, formerly New Jersey’s Environmental Commissioner, EPA’s senior leadership contains two of the founding members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which just recently completed its third auction of allowances for the power generation sector as part of a cap-and-trade system in effect in the Northeast region.

The accelerating activity pending at EPA means that regulated industries need to be diligent and participate in the review and comment process as the regulatory notices continue to emerge.      

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