EPA Begins Regulating Global Warming Pollution

Written by Lisa Hayden on . Posted in Learn, The Wonk Room

With progress on climate legislation remaining elusive despite a year-end flurry of Congressional action, all eyes are turning toward the regulatory agency stage.

As of yesterday (January 2), the Environmental Protection Agency officially began regulating greenhouse gases emitted by new and upgraded refineries and power plants under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA has signaled its intention to proceed with regulating greenhouse gas emissions, in December issuing a timeline that would phase in greenhouse gas pollution standards for the sources of about 40 percent of the U.S.’s global warming pollution.

Listening sessions are scheduled with business and industry representatives in the coming months as the standards are being developed, and as states determine technological requirements for monitoring.

The Obama administration maintains that it is legally obligated to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act after a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Massachusetts v. EPA) ordered the EPA to determine whether the heat-trapping gases endanger public health and welfare (a determination the agency later made).

At first, only plants that would already be regulated for soot or smog emissions will be required to also control their GHG emissions. But by July, an additional 900 or so large plants will fall under the rules based solely on their GHG emissions.

Lisa Hayden is climate change writer for The Nature Conservancy

Photo by: Mark Godfrey/The Nature Conservancy

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