EPA Uses ‘Endangerment Finding’ Stick to Spur Climate Change Legislation
The Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to declare carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant in the upcoming months may help push climate-change legislation as top senators delay plans until late September to set new limits on carbon dioxide emissions, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The House narrowly passed an energy and climate-change bill in June.
On Aug. 31, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said a formal “endangerment finding,” which would trigger federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act even if Congress doesn’t pass a final climate-change bill, probably would “happen in the next months,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle. In April, the EPA proposed to regulate carbon dioxide along with five other greenhouse gases as pollutants that jeopardize public health and welfare.
If Congress fails to pass a climate change bill by the end of the year, the EPA is ready to mandate limits on carbon emissions, reports Reuters.
But for now, the fate of U.S. climate change legislation is in the hands of the Senate where several legislators including California Democrat Barbara Boxer, are making “tweaks” to the bill, reports Reuters.
There is speculation that Boxer might opt for a slightly higher goal for reducing carbon emissions such as 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, instead of the 17 percent in the House bill, and Senator John Kerry wants stronger controls to deter abusive financial market speculation on trading of pollution permits, reports Reuters.
In addition, there are a host of scenarios for deal-making among the senators that range from a lower target — 14 percent — for reducing emissions and more breaks for coal states to passing legislation already approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that requires utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity by 2021 from renewable sources like solar and wind power, according to Reuters.
Outside of government discussions, some corporations are using scare tactics to influence consumers against a climate-change bill that significantly reduces carbon emissions.
As an example, San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp. is posting signs at its gasoline stations warning customers about the projected price hike in fuel if the House-approved bill on carbon cap-and-trade becomes law, reports the Houston Chronicle.
Valero, the largest U.S. independent refining company, said its costs for carbon emissions would total $6 billion to $7 billion a year, depending on the auction costs of the permits, reports the Houston newspaper.
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