Manufacturers ‘Freaked Out’ about Climate Guidelines
Manufacturers are “very freaked out” by new climate change standards that President Obama will reportedly issue in the coming weeks, Bloomberg reports.
According to the news agency, Obama will set guidelines that requires all federal agencies to consider the effects of major projects on air, water and soil pollution.
Lobbyists worry the across-the-board federal review will mean more administrative reviews and lawsuits, resulting in delays to natural gas export facilities and ports for coal sales to Asia.
“It’s got us very freaked out,” Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, told Bloomberg. The association represents some 11,000 companies including Exxon Mobil and Southern Co.
The standards, being reviewed by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality, will direct agencies on how to address climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Bloomberg says the administration may require agencies to consider both the increase in greenhouse gases and how flooding, drought or other extreme weather might affect a project. It says agencies would be required to complete full reports for projects with 25,000 metric tons of CO2e emissions or more annually.
While the initial proposal, issued by the White House in 2010, exempted federal land and resource decisions from the standards, federal lands could be included in the final draft.
This could affect the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline and leases to drill for oil, gas and coal on federal lands, such as those issued to Arch Coal and Peabody Energy Corp. Environmental groups have filed lawsuits against the companies charging that the Department of the Interior didn’t consider the effect on global warming from burning coal before issuing the leases.
Groups including the US Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association have argued that climate change should not be considered under NEPA.
In another White House effort to reduce GHG emissions, the President plans to ask Congress to create a $2 billion energy security trust to fund alternative fuel research, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The trust will be included in Obama’s proposed budget and will research fuels that could eventually replace gasoline. The money would come from expected revenue from drilling permits, and from higher oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.
At the same time, however, the Washington Post reports that the White House may scale back its proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, proposed almost a year ago. The EPA might relax standards for coal-powered plants, and a re-write would almost certainly delay the agency’s timeline for action.
In his State of the Union address, Obama said he would take executive actions “to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy” if Congress didn’t act.
Earlier this month Obama nominated Gina McCarthy, currently the assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, for the top post at the agency. McCarthy’s supporters say her nomination as EPA administrator is another indication that President Obama is serious about prioritizing climate change.
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