EPA has proposed what many are calling the Agency’s first major step down the road to regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. The newly proposed “tailoring” rule applies to requirements for major new or expanded sources and to permits for stationary sources, but does so in a carefully targeted manner. It’s the right place for EPA to start.
It’s critical to understand both what the proposal does and doesn’t do, and why EPA needed to begin here.
Contrary to some press accounts, the proposed rule does not impose new control requirements on all large stationary sources. Best available control technologies would be required only of new stationary sources that emit over 25,000 tons per year or major modifications to existing sources that increase emissions by 10,000-25,000 tons per year – a range EPA sought comment on. If yours is not one of the estimated 400 major new or modified facilities each year, you do not face any (new or old) control requirements limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
The proposal also requires that EPA (and states) include greenhouse gas emissions in the permits of roughly 14,000 facilities that emit more than 25,000 tons per year of these pollutants. These permits do not impose any new controls on any source; they simply incorporate into a permit EPA’s new mandatory reporting requirements.
On August 25, 2008, twelve states filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating the Clean Air Act by not regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil refineries. A Supreme Court ruling in 2007 found that the EPA had the power to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act. The suit says that oil refineries account for 3 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and about 15 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes; it seeks to force the EPA to adopt new standards to cover these emissions.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is leading the lawsuit filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. New York is joined in filing the suit by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and New York City.
State coalitions have previously sued the EPA in pursuit of standards for power plant emissions and to uphold states’ rights to regulate automobile emissions.
On April 2, 2008, 12 states, the District of Columbia, two cities, and several environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its failure to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. The states and other petitioners are asking the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to force the EPA to issue within 60 days its formal determination of the public health impacts from GHG emissions. In filing their suit, the plaintiffs cited the Supreme Court’s April 2007 decision in Massachusetts et al v. EPA, in which the Court ruled that the EPA is authorized to regulate greenhouse gases under the federal Clean Air Act, and must consider doing so unless it can demonstrate that these gases do not contribute to climate change that harms human health and welfare. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, the EPA has not issued any formal language or rules for the regulation of CO2 or other greenhouse gases. The states joining the lawsuit include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Arizona, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland and Minnesota.