Archive for Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Greenhouse gases pose threat to Americans’ health, EPA says

December 8, 2009

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Kansas reaction

Kansas environmentalists applauded the Obama administration’s announcement that the EPA has determined greenhouse gases pose a risk to health and environment.

Scott Allegrucci, executive director of the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy, said Kansas is uniquely positioned to capitalize on changes in the energy industry because of the state’s wind resources and reserves of natural gas, which produce half the carbon dioxide emissions that coal does.

“As stewards of resources available to us, Kansans are poised to take the lead in the energy future that the EPA launched today. This is a significant development for the economy and for energy jobs in our state,” Allegrucci said.

— The Obama administration moved closer Monday to issuing regulations on greenhouse gases, a step that would enable it to limit emissions across the economy even if Congress fails to enact climate legislation.

The move, which coincided with the first day of the international climate summit in Copenhagen, seemed timed to reassure delegates there that the United States is committed to reducing its emissions even if domestic legislation remains bogged down. But it provoked condemnation from key Republicans and from U.S. business groups, which vowed to tie up any regulations in litigation.

In Monday’s much-anticipated announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency said that six gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, pose a danger to the environment and health of Americans and that the agency would start drawing up regulations to reduce those emissions.

“These are reasonable, common-sense steps,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, adding that they would protect the environment “without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the better part of our economy.” At the same time, however, EPA regulation is no one’s preferred outcome — not even the EPA’s. Jackson said her agency and other administration officials would still prefer if Congress acted before they did.

Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., a leading proponent of a Senate climate bill, issued a statement after the EPA’s announcement saying, “The message to Congress is crystal clear: Get moving.”

The EPA’s “endangerment finding” — a key bureaucratic step in the regulatory process — was seen as a message to Congress and Copenhagen, but it was also a belated response to an order from the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in April 2007 that carbon dioxide should be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. As a result, the court said, the EPA had not only the power but the obligation to regulate the gas.

Michael Morris, chief executive of American Electric Power, a utility that is the nation’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, said Monday that “we have been a proponent … to a congressional approach to this undertaking. This is the most awkward way we could go about it.” The EPA had to comply with direction from the courts, Morris said, but “there are better approaches, more cost-effective approaches and more productive approaches.”

It remains unclear whether the EPA’s regulatory cudgel will spur Congress to take faster action on the climate legislation that is now mired in the Senate or whether it will provoke a backlash.

“The stick approach isn’t going to work. In fact, Congress may retaliate,” said Mark Helmke, a senior adviser to Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. “They could stop the funding, and they could change the law.”

Comments

Bill Griffith 5 years, 5 months ago

Congress will not stop the funding to EPA-though some may try. Industry will lobby Congress harder to pass a climate bill that is to some degree weaker than allowing EPA to police CO2. My guess is this will put a halt, at least for the moment, for plans to build new coal-fired generating plants that do not have carbon capture capability.

tolawdjk 5 years, 5 months ago

For those of you that wish to know the regulations in question.

Light Duty Vehicle Rule

http://www.epa.gov/oms/climate/regulations.htm

Greenhouse Gas tailoring rule

http://www.epa.gov/NSR/fs20090930action.html

The light duty vehicle rule is a dual EPA/DoT rule that sets CAFE standards on light duty vehicles. In those CAFE standards are the first ever standards for GHG stated as CO2e. This rule, in essence, is the first to address the issue of CO2 as a clean air act regualted pollutant. This is important.

Why is this important? Because if GHG is a CAA regulated pollutant, it is subject to the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) rules. These rules are the ones that would effect the construction and modification of large emitting sources. For example, under PSD with GHG as a regualted pollutant, Jefferies would be subject to permitting requirements if they increased their CO2e emissions by 40 tons per year. PSD permitting is a long and significant process, sometimes taking years to complete.

The second rule, GHG tailoring, is being put out there to recognise that the implications of GHG being a regulated pollutant has the potention to bog down and overwhelm the permitting process. The thresholds for requiring a permit considering GHG emission levels are just too low under the current rules. THe GHG tailoring rule seeks to increase the threshold for the need to get a permit up to 25,000 tons per year of CO2e. Unlike the LDV rule, this would require a legislative change to the CAA. EPA is seeking to use a provision of the CAA known as the "abusurdity clause" to pass the Tailoring Rule into regulation.

Chris Golledge 5 years, 5 months ago

Meanwhile, regarding temperature data and transparency, this is just in:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8400905.stm

And Tom, try to understand the difference between stirring a pot and adding more spice to it.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Why did it take 2+ years for the EPA to act after the Supreme Court ruled they were required to regulate CO2 emissions?

Bill Griffith 5 years, 5 months ago

Jafs- first the Bush Administration did a major administrative slow down on this effort so the Obama Administration had to basically start from the ground up. An endangerment finding does require a comment period to accept and review comments from the public and other interested parties. So the current EPA did this at bureaucratic light-speed.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 5 months ago

Some interesting trivia on "Greenhouse Gasses"

  • Without greenhouse gasses there could be no humans on this planet.

  • The number 1 greenhouse gas is water vapor.

  • Each one of us contributes to global warming by breathing.

Bill Griffith 5 years, 5 months ago

"Without greenhouse gasses there could be no humans on this planet" The same could be said concerning water-but that doesn't mean I want to drown or have my house flooded.

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