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September 8, 2003
Volume 81, Number 36
CENEAR 81 36 p. 14
ISSN 0009-2347


Agency claims it needs congressional authority to act on greenhouse gas


EPA has denied a 1999 petition from environmental groups asking the agency to regulate carbon dioxide from motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. The agency provides two primary reasons for its Aug. 28 decision: The Clean Air Act does not give EPA authority to regulate CO2 for climate-change purposes, and setting up emissions standards for motor vehicles is not appropriate at this time.

"Congress must provide us with clear legal authority before we can take regulatory action to address a fundamental issue such as climate change," says Jeffrey Holmstead, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air & Radiation.

The decision has no impact on regulations affecting manufacturing plants. Chemical industry trade groups, including the American Chemistry Council, had no comment on the decision.

Environmental groups are highly critical of EPA's decision. "Refusing to call greenhouse gas emissions a pollutant is like refusing to say smoking causes lung cancer," says Melissa Carey, climate policy specialist with Environmental Defense. "Climate change is happening. It's time to stop the denial and start focusing on solutions."

Mark Wenzler, environmental counsel for the National Environmental Trust, says the Administration has ample authority to regulate CO2 from motor vehicles. During the Clinton Administration, two EPA general counsels, Jonathan Z. Cannon and Gary S. Guzy, decided that CO2 is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and thus subject to regulation.

Joseph Mendelson, legal director for one of the petitioners, the International Center for Technology Assessment, says: "EPA's decision makes it clear that the Bush Administration refuses to take any concrete steps to fight global warming. We will challenge this determination in court."


Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2003 American Chemical Society

Related Stories
[C&EN, June 2, 2003]

[C&EN, May 19, 2003]

Related Sites
EPA's Office of Air & Radiation

American Chemistry Council

Environmental Defense

National Environmental Trust

International Center for Technology Assessment

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