Friday, February 26, 2010

US EPA and Climate Change

Well things are getting a bit interesting in the US with greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction regulation. Since 1955, the US has had a clean air act in some form to regulate air pollution. The task of enforcing this act falls into the hands of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In April 2007, the US Supreme Court found that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act and that the EPA had an obligation to regulate GHG. In December 2009, the EPA signed two findings:
-Endangerment Finding: The Administrator finds that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases--carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)--in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

-Cause or Contribute Finding: The Administrator finds that the combined emissions of these well-mixed greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare.
So now the EPA has developed a set of regulations that will be phased in over the next few years. Starting in 2011 larger stationary emitters (like power plants, factories, etc.) will be regulated. In 2016, smaller stationary emitter will start being regulated. On the automobile front, the EPA will regulate GHG emissions starting with 2012 model year light-duty vehicles. You can read more about this in a letter on the EPA’s website.

Of course this has thrown some groups into a tizzy. Many are claiming that jobs will be lost, and the US will go without electricity, etc. Here is a snip-it from the Politico.
In the House, Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) has introduced legislation amending the Clean Air Act to exclude greenhouse gases — a radical revision of the country’s pollution regulations.

Another powerful lobbying coalition led by the National Association of Manufacturers and including the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Home Builders submitted a separate filing.

“These costly burdens and uncertainty will stifle job creation and harm our competiveness in a global economy,” John Engler, NAM president, said in a statement.

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