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04/19/2013 02:20 PM     print story email story  

An Earth Day Gift: Polluters Take EPA to Supreme Court

SustainableBusiness.com News

As an Earth Day gift, an array of special interests are going after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yet again, this time to the Supreme Court.

They really, really don't want the EPA to be able to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Even though in December, their plea was rejected for the third time by the US Court of Appeals, which wouldn't hear the case again.

Ironically, it was the Supreme Court that gave the EPA the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the first place - now groups including the American Petroleum Institute, American Chemistry Council, American Frozen Food Institute and National Association of Manufacturers are asking them to repeal their decision. 

In the most recent attempt at repeal, Chief Judge David Sentelle said, EPA's interpretation of the nation's clean air laws is "unambiguously correct."

"The EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources is one of the most costly, complex and encompassing energy regulatory issues facing manufacturers and is damaging to our global competitiveness," states Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

But the EPA isn't regulating greenhouse gas emissions yet! And, disappointing the environmental community, it just postponed regulations issued last year which cover only newly built power plants, after decades of postponement.

Sadly, all the greenhouse gas regulations would do are enforce:

Long-standing rules that require large industrial emitters to install modern pollution prevention technology.

New industrial facilities and those overhauling operations must deploy the best available, cost-effective technology to control their pollution, harmonizing major capital investments in expanded business operations with clean air measures.

Is that so terrible?

Look what happened at the fertilizer plant in Texas. The news is brimming with accounts of lack of regulation as the cause of the explosion.

Yet, because the budget has been cut to the bone for enforcement, inspectors hadn't visited the plant in 28 years. With only a few thousand inspectors assigned to something like 60,000 facilities, clearly companies take advantage of the situation by cutting costs on important things like ... safety.

Is that what we want for climate change?

Meanwhile, EPA is being hammered by the other side too, which is sick and tired of waiting for action.

A dozen cities and states filed a notice of intent to sue because the EPA postponed issuing the rules for new power plants.

"Climate change is a real and increasing threat to our health,  safety, and economy. While the Obama Administration has pledged to combat climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency has now missed the deadline for adopting New Source Performance Standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel power plants," says General Eric Schneiderman, New York State Attorney.

Back in 2010, EPA reached a settlement with states and environmental organizations which committed the agency to setting rules for new and existing  plants.

The EPA received a separate notice this week from a group of environmental organizations threatening litigation if it doesn't soon issue rules regulating existing power plants as required under the Clean Air Act.

Here's the list of groups that are taking EPA to the Supreme Court: 

American Chemistry Council
American Frozen Food Institute
American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers
American Iron and Steel Institute
American Petroleum Institute
Brick Industry Association
Clean Air Implementation Project
Corn Refiners Association
Glass Association of North America
Independent Petroleum Association of America
Indiana Cast Metals Association
Michigan Manufacturers Association
Mississippi Manufacturers Association
National Association of Home Builders
National Association of Manufacturers
National Federation of Independent Business|
National Oilseed Processors Association
North American Die Casting Association
Portland Cement Association
Specialty Steel Industry of North America
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Western States Petroleum Association
West Virginia Manufacturers Association
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce




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