US enviro chief uncertain on path to CO2 regulation

10 April 2007 20:07  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The top US environmental official said on Tuesday he was unsure what steps will be taken to implement a high court decision to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the automotive and other industries such as chemicals.

 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Stephen Johnson said his agency was reviewing last week’s key ruling by the US Supreme Court but that it would be premature to say what course the agency will take.

 

The high court ruled that the agency has both the legal authority and an obligation to regulate CO2 emissions where ever they occur. Under the Bush administration, the agency had held that it lacked statutory authority to restrict CO2 emissions. 

 

The court ruling is seen as a major reversal for the EPA’s “hands off” approach and could signal the beginning of federal limitations on industrial emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.  The case in which the Supreme Court ruled involved CO2 emissions from automotive engines, but the broad court decision said EPA has an obligation to regulate CO2 in any setting.

 

“We are actively reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision,” Johnson told a press conference.  “We have not made any decision as to what our next steps are, but we are looking at what our options are and considering options for our next step with regard to greenhouse gas emissions in the automobile sector as the court ruled.”

 

“We are considering what our next steps will be, and it would be premature at this point to speculate on what approach we might or might not take,” Johnson said.

 

Asked if the high court ruling meant that his agency must move to regulate CO2 emissions in industries other than automotive manufacturing, Johnson said it also would be premature for him to speculate on that broader impact.

 

US chemical industry officials have warned that federal limits on CO2 emissions will drive electric power costs much higher and raise prices for natural gas, the industry’s principal feedstock.

 

Johnson indicated that his agency would soon have a statement on the CO2 court ruling, saying, “Stay tuned”.


By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653



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