Bush defies High Court order to regulate CO2

11 July 2008 20:08  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The Bush administration declined on Friday to issue rules governing greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, defying a Supreme Court order and saying that Congress alone should take responsibility for climate-change regulation.

 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson told a press conference that, despite a US Supreme Court ruling that the EPA should regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (CAA), “the Clean Air Act is ill-suited to the regulation of greenhouse gases”.

 

Instead of issuing rules to regulate emissions believed to cause global warming, the EPA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) seeking public comment on “the effects of climate change and the potential ramifications of the Clean Air Act in relation to greenhouse-gas emissions”.

 

Many in the US chemicals industry and a broad segment of the country’s manufacturing and other business interests had expressed concern about the April 2007 Supreme Court ruling and what business saw as potentially catastrophic consequences of EPA issuing rules governing almost every aspect of industrial production.

 

“If we were to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, we would have to do so regulation by regulation, and it would take years and years, and all of it would be subject to litigation and still more years,” Johnson said, meaning that the agency would have to issue multiple rules on an industry-by-industry basis and likely would face lawsuits in every instance.

 

“If the nation is serious about regulating greenhouse gases, then it should be done through Congress and through legislation that addresses all aspects of the issue and produces regulatory certainty that also would avoid unlimited litigation,” Johnson said.

 

In its April 2007 ruling, the US Supreme Court held in Massachusetts vs. EPA that the environmental agency does have authority under the CAA to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions by automobile engines. In addition, in what amounted to an order to draft and implement such regulations, the Supreme Court said that EPA must issue those rules unless it could determine that tailpipe emissions are harmless.

 

However, Johnson said action by his agency to regulate tailpipe emissions “could or would lead to regulation of GHG emissions under other sections of the Act, including sections establishing permitting requirements for major stationary sources of air pollutants”, which he said again was not appropriate for the Clean Air Act.

 

The notice of proposed rulemaking sets a 120-day period for public comment on the appropriateness of using the Clean Air Act as a climate control measure, meaning that further EPA action on the matter is not likely before President George Bush hands off to a new president and administration that will take office in January 2009 following this year’s 4 November US national elections.

 

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By: Joe Kamalick
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