US chems, refiners warn against climate rule

11 July 2008 21:58  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US refining, chemical and business interests warned on Friday that efforts to regulate the nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under existing environmental law would bring economic progress to a halt.


Earlier on Friday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a 600-page proposed rule on how it might regulate emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (CAA).


Under what the EPA calls an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM), the agency will not take any regulatory action but instead has set a 120-day period in which public comment is invited on how to proceed.


However, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said the Clean Air Act is ill-suited as a basis for wide scale federal regulation of emissions thought to cause global warming and that it is the responsibility of Congress to draft a comprehensive national policy to regulate greenhouse gases.


Even the draft proposal for emissions controls under the Clean Air Act would have “dramatic, negative implications for American consumers and businesses”, said the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA).


“We appreciate EPA’s decision to seek further consultation and public comment on its proposal to address greenhouse gas emissions,” said NPRA president Charles Drevna. 


He said federal officials should not “rush to judgement on a decision that could ultimately cost millions of Americans their jobs by threatening energy supply and saddling domestic manufacturing with higher costs”.


Mike Walls, managing director at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), agreed with Johnson that “the CAA is an unwieldy mechanism for climate regulation”.


“If you look at the range of actions identified in the proposal, the breadth and depth of regulation under CAA would go to the entire US economy,” Walls said, also agreeing with Johnson that it would be better for Congress to draft comprehensive legislation to effect a national policy on greenhouse gas controls.


Bill Kovacs, vice president at the US Chamber of Commerce, said the draft EPA greenhouse gas controls approach is “a classic case of government overreach”. 


He warned that the broad application of Clean Air Act regulation of emissions “would essentially stop every construction project in America and bring our economy to a screeching halt”.


An April 2007 ruling by the US Supreme Court required EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, but in Friday’s proposed rulemaking the EPA itself essentially said that complying with the High Court’s ruling would not work.


In setting a 120-day period for public comment on what EPA should do further on the issue, the agency in effect will delay final action on the issue until the Bush administration is out of office.


“For all practical purposes, it will be the next administration’s call on this one,” said Walls.


US national elections will be held 4 November and a new administration will be sworn into office in January 2009.


($1 = €.63)


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By: Joe Kamalick
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