US energy sector asks Congress to bar environmental greenhouse rules

01 June 2011 19:56  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US energy producers on Wednesday said they would ask Congress to revoke Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules limiting greenhouse gases (GHG), warning that the regulations will impose job-killing costs on US industry.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said that it was talking with members of the Senate to encourage speedy action to overturn or otherwise block the agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases produced by industrial facilities.

Early this year, the EPA began implementing its rules limiting GHG emissions from what the agency calls “stationary sources”, meaning chemical plants, refineries, electric utilities and other production or manufacturing facilities.

The agency based those controversial regulations on its December 2009 “endangerment finding” in which it held that greenhouse gases cause global warming that threatens human well-being and the environment.

That finding and the agency’s regulations are the target of more than 90 lawsuits. US petrochemical producers and other chemicals manufacturers are among multiple industrial and state government plaintiffs in those cases.

However, the outcome of legal challenges is uncertain and final resolution of the scores of suits could take years.

In the meantime, API regulatory director Howard Feldman warned that the EPA’s roll-out of its greenhouse gas restrictions “will be enormously costly” to a wide range of US industry.

He criticised the White House and the EPA in particular for failing to consider the agency’s GHG rules as part of the regulatory review and reform mandate issued by President Barack Obama in January.

The EPA last week issued a list of regulations it would consider for reform or elimination, but the agency’s greenhouse gases rules were not included.

Also absent from the agency’s regulatory review list was its new and tougher limits on ozone, Feldman said. Implementation of that rule alone could cost more than 7m US jobs and $10,000bn (€6,900bn) in compliance costs over 2020-2030.

With the White House and the EPA apparently unwilling to pull back from the greenhouse gases rules or the new ozone reduction mandate, the API said it was again working toward getting congressional reversal of the agency’s requirements.

Khary Cauthen, the API’s director of federal relations, said that “We’re telling people on Capitol Hill that industry needs relief from these regulations”.

Cauthen noted that in early April this year the House approved by a strong margin legislation that would revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases emissions from stationary sources.

Although similar measures narrowly failed to pass in the Senate, Cauthen said that there is broad agreement among both Republican and Democrat senators that the EPA “should not be moving forward” with its GHG policies.

“We keep communicating to them [senators] that we hope they can get some action in the Senate to stop EPA,” he said.

Noting that a combined majority of senators voted for one or another of the failed Senate measures, Cauthen said that “We feel that there is a pathway forward, and it is still our hope that Congress will recognise some legislative vehicle that will give us relief”.

($1 = €0.69)

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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