The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) January 2, but the regulations only apply to new or expanding power plants and refineries. They will have to obtain permits to emit GHG and follow agency guidelines on how to best control emissions.
Now the EPA announced that it will propose industry-specific standards for existing power plants and oil refineries as part of a settlement of a lawsuit filed for inaction under the Bush administration.
Several states, local governments and environmental groups sued the EPA for failing to regulate electric utilities and oil refineries, which account for almost 40% of U.S. GHG emissions.
Power plants are the largest emitter in the US at 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year; oil refineries are the second largest at over 200 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
The EPA will propose standards for utilities in July 2011, followed by refineries in December 2011. Final standards will be put in place in May 2012 for utilities and November 2012 for refineries.
The standard will ask emitters to reduce carbon emissions using technologies that are widely available and affordable. The standards will also help these industries plan future investments, fuel the economic recovery and create jobs.
The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association says they will move to block the EPA.
Republicans set to take over key committees are promising a rapid attack to block the EPA.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), who is expected to head a House panel that controls the EPA’s budget told Reuters, the first opportunity to tackle EPA will be on a partial-year spending bill the new Congress will have to pass early in 2011 to avoid government shut-downs after March 4.
Senator Inhofe (R-OK), the senior Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees climate change policy, noted that Democrats up for re-election in coal states might well join Republicans in their effort to barr EPA from regulating GHG.