US petchems join others to urge Senate block of EPA rule

09 June 2010 22:25  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US refiners and petrochemical producers on Wednesday joined a broad range of other business interests in urging the US Senate to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) was among 24 trade and business groups that sent a letter to all 100 senators asking them to pass Senate Joint Resolution 26, which would bar the EPA from proceeding with plans to impose reductions on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases by industry.

Originally sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican-Alaska), SJR-26 has been co-sponsored by 37 other Republicans and three Democrat senators.

Earlier this week, the White House declared strong opposition to the measure and suggested that President Barack Obama would veto the bill if it got to his desk.

The Murkowski measure, formally a “resolution of disapproval”, states that Congress disapproves the key “endangerment finding” issued by EPA late last year and declares that ruling null and void.

The agency’s December 2009 endangerment finding held that greenhouse gases cause global warming, which in turn posed a threat to human health and well-being, and that EPA had authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate such gases.

Those EPA assertions regarding global warming and its causes are being separately challenged by numerous lawsuits filed by state governments and various industries.

Without going to the contentious issues of global warming science, Murkowski and other sponsors of SJR-26 argued that EPA had overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act, and said that it was the sole responsibility of Congress to craft climate legislation.

The NPRA and other manufacturers and business groups sided with Murkowski against EPA, warning in their letter to senators that if the agency was allowed to proceed with plans to impose emissions limits on US business and consumers, “it will add billions of dollars to the cost of doing business in the US, raise the cost of energy and other products for American families and wipe out the jobs of millions of American workers”.

“Restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions were never authorised or contemplated by members of Congress when they enacted the Clean Air Act,” said Charlie Drevna, NPRA president.

“Senator Murkowski’s resolution simply recognises this truth and calls a halt to EPA’s greenhouse gas campaign before it harms the American economy, destroys American jobs and costs families and farmers billions of dollars,” Drevna said.

In addition to NPRA, the letter was signed by the American Petroleum Institute, Associated General Contractors of America, the Corn Refiners Association, the Natural Gas Supply Association and The Fertilizer Institute, among others.

The 24 trade groups noted that while they disagreed with one another on various topics, including the best approach to climate change issues, “we are united in opposition to unilateral EPA action to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act”.

The Murkowski measure is scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Thursday.

Congressional observers said that the veto threat issued by the White House earlier this week suggested that the Murkowski disapproval resolution might be close to getting the 51 Senate votes needed for passage.

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