Postponing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants, oil refineries and other stationary sources "should be an urgent priority for Congress," 23 associations, including the American Petroleum Institute, American Chemistry Council (ACC), National Association of Manufacturers, National Petrochemical & Refiners Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in letters sent last week to the Senate and House Appropriations committees.

"We urge your strong support for measures to temporarily restrict EPA's authority to implement the GHG rules affecting stationary sources, and to give Congress the time necessary to consider the appropriate regulatory approach for those sources," the associations wrote to lawmakers.

Last year the Obama administration formally declared that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHG emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare, which laid the groundwork for EPA to more stringently regulate emissions from power plants, refineries, factories and vehicles -- even if Congress fails to enact climate change legislation (see Daily GPI, Dec. 8, 2009).

In May EPA finalized the GHG tailoring rule, which specifies that beginning in 2011 projects that will increase GHG emissions substantially will require an air permit (see Daily GPI, May 14). The tailoring rule covers large industrial facilities like power plants and oil refineries, which are responsible for 70% of the GHGs from stationary sources.

"Already, the uncertainty and cost associated with these new regulations is having a chilling effect on investment and job creation vital to the nation's recovery," according to ACC CEO Cal Dooley.

Postponing EPA's authority to implement the GHG rules affecting stationary sources would "give Congress the time necessary to consider the appropriate regulatory approach for those sources," according to the association's letters to lawmakers. Such an approach "would allow any restrictions on funding in a manner that still allows EPA's rules on motor vehicles to continue in effect unchanged.

"More importantly, the appropriations process provides Congress an important oversight and management tool that will inform the further development of a national climate policy. Other approaches, such as a codification of EPA's 'tailoring' rule to ease the potential burden on smaller businesses have been suggested. Unfortunately, the vast majority of American businesses affected by the GHG rules will not be protected by a simple codification of EPA's rules."

The endangerment determination has not been popular on Capitol Hill, with a number of lawmakers seeking to nullify the EPA's use of its Clean Air Act authority to regulate emissions (see Daily GPI, Feb. 24).

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