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GHG Rule Defense a White House ‘Priority’; UK Plc Demands Mandatory Reporting

Defending new rules on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be a top administration priority this year, a U.S. Justice Department official has said.

Ignacia Moreno said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations targeting major GHG emitters are of “critical importance”, Reuters reports.

“Defending against these challenges will remain one of our highest priorities in 2011,” said Moreno, who is assistant attorney general for the department’s environment and natural resources division.

The EPA declared GHGs a threat to human health in late 2009, and has since ordered states to begin issuing GHG permits to big emitters such as oil refineries, coal-burning power plants, cement factories and glass makers. The new rules took effect January 2.

Industrial groups have filed lawsuits claiming that the EPA did not do enough research to show that GHGs are a threat to human health.

The state of Texas has tried and failed so far to delay implementing the federal regulations. After the state refused to comply with the regulations, the EPA said it would issue permits directly to Texas companies.

Early this month a federal court granted a temporary halt to the EPA’s takeover of GHG regulations in the state. But last week the stay was lifted. Texas is the only state that has refused to comply with the rules, Bloomberg says.

Last week the EPA decided to defer application of the GHG rules to biomass facilities for three years.

In U.K. news, 150 companies and non-profits are pressuring the government to introduce mandatory GHG emissions reporting for large firms.

Major signatories include Nestle, Heathrow operator BAA, pharmaceutical maker AstraZeneca, utilities National Grid and Centrica, and builders Lend Lease and Land Securities.

Over a hundred members of parliament have also backed the campaign.

But the Co-Operative Group, which is leading the push, said the U.K. government has been backing away from mandatory reporting.

The head of PepsiCo UK & Ireland has called for the simplification of renewable energy legislation.

The companies’ letter to environment secretary Caroline Spelman can be found here.

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