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March 1, 2010
Volume 88, Number 9
p. 14

EPA Delays CO2 Cuts

Greenhouse Gas: Agency postpones limits to plant emissions until 2011 or later

Jeff Johnson

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Large carbon dioxide emitters will have a year or more before EPA calls for them to cut CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Chemical plants, power plants, and other large sources of greenhouse gases will have until at least 2011 to cut those emissions under upcoming Environmental Protection Agency regulations, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said last week in a letter to eight U.S. senators.

The senators were worried about the impact on industry of Jackson’s so-called endangerment finding, which determined that EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Although Congress has been unable to pass climate-change legislation, Jackson has promised to move ahead at EPA and issue regulations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. She has been circumspect, however, about when such regulations will be written and implemented.

The regulations, Jackson said, will first hit facilities that must obtain or modify Clean Air Act emissions permits in 2011. In the first half of that year, she said, facilities that already had to apply for the emissions permits because of their non-greenhouse gas emissions will also need to address greenhouse gas emissions in their applications. After that, other large plants will also have to comply as part of the act’s permitting process. Jackson stressed that small facilities would not be affected until 2016 or later.

She estimated that fewer than 400 facilities will be affected annually. The new regulations have yet to be written, however, and Jackson said EPA will begin this process in April. She said the greenhouse gas emissions threshold for action will exceed 25,000 tons per year, a level EPA had originally proposed. That level is far higher than the 100 to 250 tons for other pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act.

Many in Congress have discussed ways to block Jackson’s authority, and despite EPA’s response, several members say they are still considering legislation to limit EPA. They are supported by the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry trade association, which called her action “incomplete and unacceptable.” ACC urged Congress to step in and postpone EPA regulations while developing its own solution to greenhouse gases.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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