EPA Dances Around Request to Curb Greenhouse Gases from Refineries

Posted by Warming Law Thu, 01 May 2008 13:20:00 GMT

E&E News (subscription req.) is reporting that the EPA—responding to a court order—has issued new regulations to reduce air pollution from petroleum refineries. But there’s a catch: EPA also has denied environmental groups’ request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the refineries, and in so doing, stands accused of dramatically reinterpreting the Clean Air Act:

EPA explained that it was working on a new global warming policy in response to last year’s loss in the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA—a case that started when the Bush administration denied a petition to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

The agency also opened itself up to controversy today by saying it did not need to set any greenhouse gas limits for the industry now because it previously had opted against establishing such standards.

Environmentalists said they plan to sue EPA in federal appeals court over that reasoning. "It’s enormous," said David Bookbinder, an attorney at the Sierra Club. "They’re taking the position the agency has no obligation to look at or review any other pollutant."

Bookbinder said he was not surprised by EPA’s decision, adding that he did not expect the issue to be resolved until after the Bush administration leaves office. "I don’t want these chuckleheads writing the regulations for CO2," he said. "What scares me is the chunk of collateral damage done to the Clean Air Act." 

EPA’s response to the public comments, filed by the Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project, is explained between pages 92 and 104 of the new rule. We’re first taking a close look at EPA’s wording ourselves, and will chime in with further comments as needed.

But as a matter of simple analysis, it does behoove us to note that this is far from first time that EPA has used its own unreasonable delay on the Supreme Court’s Mass. v. EPA mandate as an excuse…

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