Chem group says US greenhouse regs would hurt economic recovery

22 March 2010 21:09  [Source: ICIS news]

Chem group seeks delay of regsHOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must delay its finalisation of greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations or risk jeopardising the nation’s economic recovery, the chief executive of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said on Monday.

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, ACC CEO Cal Dooley noted that regulation of stationary sources could be triggered as soon as 31 March, when the EPA currently plans to issue motor vehicle GHG emissions standards as a result of its controversial “endangerment finding”.

“The regulations that would result from the mobile source rule would delay the construction of facilities by 24 to 36 months,” Dooley said. “Investments would just be held back – clearly inconsistent with the government’s objectives of economic recovery. It is imperative that the administration respond.”

Although the EPA’s regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions first will be applied to vehicles, the agency has also said it will proceed with plans to enforce emissions limits for electric utilities, manufacturing plants and other production facilities, known as “stationary sources” in EPA parlance.

However, such regulations would forestall investment from chemical companies that are already looking to lower emissions through the development of alternative energy technologies.

“Investment in manufacturing needs regulatory certainty,” said Dooley. “Even if they implement, we won’t have certainty because the EPA hasn’t come to a consensus on guidance for the best available emissions control technology.

“Moreover, over 30 states have said they don’t have the capacity to implement these rules, and won’t in the next three years or so,” he added. “We need to give Congress and the Senate more time to get climate change policy right.”

Dooley said there was “absolute unity” among the ACC’s member companies in opposition to the proposed regulations.

Dooley was joined on the call by Thomas Gibson, chief executive of the American Iron and Steel Institute. Gibson noted that his group supported a proposal from West Virginia Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller and seven other Senate Democrats that would delay implementation of the stationary source rule by two years.

“It’s the common-sense approach,” Gibson said. “It doesn’t eliminate it and we’re not looking to do that. It just delays it for a short period of time. We’re already contributing to energy efficiency, and that process shouldn’t be cut short by arbitrary timelines.”

As such, Dooley said the ACC was calling on Congress to pass legislation to forestall the regulations, adding that it was already working with multiple Senators on developing appropriate climate change policy.

“We have investments ready to go in manufacturing facilities,” Dooley said. “A number of our companies have received stimulus funds that would go to manufacturing photovoltaic and lithium-ion plants, as well as a number of other facilities that would not only create jobs but also green jobs and result in products with greater energy efficiency and reduced emissions.”

Congressional action to block the proposed regulations must occur before the EPA finalises its rule on 31 March, Gibson said.

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