Further efforts against US CO2 regulation are expected

25 September 2009 21:20  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--Additional efforts are expected in Congress in weeks ahead to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by fixed facilities, industry sources said on Friday.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said that while an effort by Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican-Alaska) to limit EPA’s regulation of CO2 to mobile sources, such as autos, was not successful, other legislative attempts are likely in October.

The EPA is poised to begin regulation of CO2 emissions from automobiles under the 2007 US Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the high court held that if the agency determines that CO2 is a pollutant, it must be regulated.

EPA has already issued a proposed ruling - known as an endangerment finding - that effectively says that CO2 is a pollutant. A final ruling is expected shortly.

Chemical industry and other manufacturing sector officials worry that under the terms of the Clean Air Act, regulation of pollutants could apply on a broad basis, whereas the Supreme Court ruling ostensibly limited the EPA’s regulation of CO2 to vehicle emissions.

If EPA were to regulate CO2 in general, as the council and other business groups have warned, millions of US production facilities, commercial offices, and almost any stationary site that consumes energy - including schools, hospitals and hotels - would be subject to extensive and often costly EPA permitting and restrictions.

Industry officials have forecast that such sweeping regulations could greatly accelerate the shift of US manufacturing capacity to foreign sites.

Murkowski’s amendment to the fiscal year 2010 spending bill for EPA would have barred the agency from regulating CO2 emissions from stationary sources for one year. That would have allowed Congress in the meantime to draft comprehensive legislation regulating emissions of CO2 and all other greenhouse gases (GHG).

However, Murkowski withdrew her amendment, charging that the Democrat majority in the Senate was blocking it.

She said in a statement that if Congress does not move to block the EPA’s regulation of CO2 from stationary sources, it will result in “an economic train wreck”.

An ACC spokeswoman said the council expects that other members of the Senate and House will attempt through legislative means to limit the EPA CO2 regulatory reach.

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