Facing widespread opposition and several lawsuits over the endangerment finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top official announced that any regulation of greenhouse gases would be phased in gradually, reports the New York Times.
In a letter to lawmakers, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson provided a timetable for regulating greenhouse gas emissions, including plans to start targeting large facilities in early 2011, medium-sized emitters by the second half of 2011 and smaller emitters by 2016, reports the Washington Post. Jackson also made it clear that the Obama administration will move ahead with reducing GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act as required under a 2007 Supreme Court decision.
The eight Democratic senators, led by John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, asked Jackson to suspend any EPA regulations of stationary sources including coal-burning power plants and large industrial facilities while Congress considers comprehensive energy and climate change legislation, reports the New York Times.
Jackson also wrote that an effort led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases would significantly impact a deal struck last year between the auto industry, the administration and several states to limit greenhouse gases from cars and light trucks, reports the Washington Post.
The EPA is also considering substantially raising the emissions thresholds in its proposed “tailoring” rule to exempt more facilities from requirements, reports the New York Times. Jackson expects the threshold for permitting will be substantially higher than the 25,000 ton limit originally proposed by the EPA between the second half of 2011 and 2013.
Environmental advocates told the New York Times the EPA was justified in declaring carbon dioxide and gases as dangerous pollutants under the Clean Air Act and was moving cautiously to regulate them.