US chems, other industries urge block to EPA greenhouse gas rules

14 September 2010 22:28  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US chemicals industry, oil and gas producers and a broad coalition of manufacturing, agriculture and business interests on Tuesday urged Congress to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases.

In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the 23 industry and commerce groups warned that if the agency proceeded with plans to begin regulating and limiting greenhouse gases emissions by factories, utilities and other stationary facilities, it would create “a significant burden across the US economy”.

“There is the very real prospect that investments by businesses across the entire economy - investments that would drive economic recovery and job creation - will be delayed, curtailed or, even worse, cancelled,” said the letter.

Among the signing organizations were the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) and the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD).

Under a ruling it issued late last year, the EPA on 2 January 2011 is to begin regulating greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions from factories, electric utilities and other facilities.

The chemicals industry and other manufacturers and business groups contend that EPA’s use of the Clean Air Act to control emissions from so-called stationary facilities (as distinct from vehicles) is inappropriate, and that it is the responsibility of Congress to set national climate policy.

The letter authors, who also include The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), CropLife America and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), asked the Senate Appropriations Committee members to use the pending appropriations bill for EPA to bar the agency’s planned action.

The committee was to give final consideration on Thursday to the EPA’s appropriations bill. An appropriations bill is the funding and instructions from Congress to an administrative agency, specifying how budget money is to be spent.

Congress could specify in an appropriations bill, for example, that “no funds may be expended for the regulation of greenhouse gases”, and that would effectively halt the EPA’s regulatory plan.

“According to EPA, as many as six million of America’s industrial facilities, power plants, hospitals, agricultural and commercial establishments eventually will be subject to these rules, at a considerable cost and burden on jobs, state resources and the ability to move forward on a national climate policy,” the letter added.

The industrial and agricultural groups asked that during Thursday’s committee mark-up of the EPA appropriations bill, that senators bar the agency from enforcing its greenhouse gases rules for two or three years. The delay would give Congress time to craft an appropriate legislative approach to climate change concerns, the groups said.

Alternatively, the business interests urged the Senate to approve a pending bill that would impose a two-year moratorium on the EPA’s regulatory plans.

That measure, S-3072, was sponsored by Senator John Rockefeller (Democrat-West Virginia) and was expected to come to a vote in the Senate before the end of this month.

ACC president Cal Dooley said that the looming EPA regulatory plan for greenhouse gases “is one of the top challenges facing American business today”.

He warned that it would have a chilling effect on business investments and operations across the country, because uncertainty over how the rules will be enforced and what permits might be required would force business operators and lenders to put a hold on projects or improvements.

The EPA has conceded that its GHG rules may block new facility construction or plant improvements.

Also signing the letter were the American Petroleum Institute (API), the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), the Aluminum Association (AA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Separately, various industry groups and state governments also were taking action through federal courts to block the EPA's regulatory plans.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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