EPA Unveils Timetable for Regulating Greenhouse Gases

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Posted: Feb 25, 2010 2:46 PM
Forget Congress.  Forget cap-and-trade (for now).  The Environmental Protection Agency is going ahead with its own plans to regulate emissions.  While the nation's attention is focused on health care this week, the Washington Post reports that EPA administrator Lisa Jackson plans to begin targeting "large facilities" like power plants starting next year:
[In a letter to legislators, Jackson] outlined, major emitters of carbon dioxide that are already seeking air-pollution permits would face regulation as early as the start of 2011. Medium-size emitters such as a large liquor distillery would not face restrictions until the second half of 2011 at the earliest, and smaller facilities such as dry cleaners and hospitals wouldn't come under the rules until 2016.
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Jackson also wrote that an effort by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases would undo a deal struck last year between the auto industry, the administration and several states to limit greenhouse gases from cars and light trucks.

David Doniger, policy director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group, said the letter shows that "carbon pollution can be controlled under the Clean Air Act in an effective and reasonable way."

"The EPA's reaffirming their intent is to carry out the existing law as defined under the Clean Air Act," he said. "That's their job, until and unless Congress passes a new law."

But Jeffrey R. Holmstead, a lawyer at Bracewell & Giuliani who represents several companies that would be regulated under Jackson's plan, said the administration does not need to act this quickly and could accomplish some of the same goals by simply tightening fuel-economy standards for automobiles.

"The way that she is proposing to do this will be litigated every step of the way," said Holmstead, who has advised Murkowski. "There's nothing that requires they regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars or trucks this year or next year, or the year after. They clearly have enormous discretion in figuring out the timing of any regulation."

Apparently the Obama administration can't think of any better time to drive consumer costs up than during an economic recession...