US industry slams carbon dioxide ruling, may file suit

07 December 2009 18:31  [Source: ICIS news]

US industry could file lawsuit over CO2 rulingWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US energy, petrochemical and other business interests on Monday said that an anticipated environmental ruling by the Obama administration is unwarranted by science, and some said they will file a lawsuit to block the rulemaking.

Business interests were reacting in advance of an anticipated announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will likely rule that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant that it must regulate.

The so-called “endangerment finding” has been expected since April when the EPA issued its proposed ruling on carbon dioxide as an atmospheric pollutant. The agency has argued that under the Clean Air Act (CAA) it has the authority to regulate CO2 emissions in keeping with a 2007 US Supreme Court ruling.

The EPA’s formal endangerment finding was expected as some 190 nations convened the UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen earlier on Monday.

However, industry officials said that the EPA lacks a credible scientific and statutory basis for ruling CO2 a pollutant, saying that the Obama administration is issuing the final finding on Monday in order to win a public relations victory at the Copenhagen climate conference.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) said that the EPA’s action “is based on selective science, a weak legal and policy foundation and a failure to account for numerous uncertainties and assumptions in the models it relies on”.

That criticism was in part a reference to recent revelations that some global warming scientists may have falsified their findings, suppressed or disposed of data that contradicted their global warming theories and sought to silence their critics.

NPRA president Charlie Drevna questioned the validity and timing of the expected EPA ruling and cautioned that the agency’s move to regulate CO2 emissions across the broad range of US business and commerce will have far reaching and costly results.

“The implications of today’s action by EPA are far-reaching [and] individual American consumers and businesses alike will be dramatically affected by this decision,” Drevna said.

Noting that both China and India have declined to make the sort of drastic emissions cuts contemplated by EPA and in pending climate legislation in Congress, Drevna warned the Obama administration against acting unilaterally just to claim leadership at the Copenhagen conference.

“It is hardly the time to risk the remainder of the US industrial sector in an attempt to achieve a short-term international public-relations victory,” Drevna said.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said in advance of the EPA ruling that the agency’s anticipated action “poses a threat to every American family and business”.

EPA regulation of CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be “intrusive, inefficient and excessively costly”, said API president Jack Gerard.

He too charged that the Obama administration’s action “is clearly politically motivated to coincide with the start of the Copenhagen climate summit”.

Saying that EPA’s endangerment finding is “unsupported by the record and fails to demonstrate a significant risk of harm to public health or welfare” by CO2 emissions, Gerard warned that the agency’s action will chill job creation and undermine the nation’s economy.

An API spokeswoman said the energy trade group is considering legal action against EPA to stop the endangerment ruling from going forward into a regulatory programme.

Other major business associations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, have indicated they might bring suit in US federal court to seek an injunction against the EPA’s endangerment finding.

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