Posted by: Steven M. Taber | February 22, 2010

EPA Administrator Jackson Issues Letter to Senators Softening Greenhouse Gas Permit Requirements

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson issued a letter on February 22, 2010, responding to a letter sent to her the evening of February 19 by eight U.S. Senators asking about the agency’s plans for 2010.

The Senators’ letter, written by Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and signed by Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Carl Levin of Michigan and Max Baucus of Montana,  said that while EPA has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources, it lacked such power to regulate stationary sources. The Senators said that since regulation of emissions of greenhouse gases impacts thousands of jobs and businesses in the US, it is Congress’ duty, not the EPA’s.

In her response, Administrator Jackson outlines her decisions she for 2010-2011, notably:

  • No facility will be required to address greenhouse gas emissions in Clean Air Act permitting of new construction or modifications before 2011.
  • For the first half of 2011, only facilities that already must apply for Clean Air Act permits as a result of their non-greenhouse gas emissions will need to address their greenhouse gas emissions in their permit applications.
  • EPA is also considering a modification to the rule announced in September requiring large facilities emitting more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year to obtain permits demonstrating they are using the best practices and technologies to minimize GHG emissions. EPA is considering raising that threshold substantially to reflect input provided during the public comment process.
  • EPA does not intend to subject smaller facilities to Clean Air Act permitting for greenhouse gas emissions any sooner than 2016.

Whether these concessions will be enough to stave off the growing opposition to the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases, time will tell.

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