EPA Proposes Greenhouse Gas Permitting Rules
August 12, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency is continuing to roll out more greenhouse gas emission rules amid stalled debate in Congress and numerous legal challenges to the agency's broader effort to regulate the heat-trapping pollutants.
The agency Thursday proposed two rules aimed at helping businesses get permits for large new and expanded facilities that would fall under emission restrictions that take effect in January.
EPA wants to mandate that permitting programs in 13 states make changes to cover greenhouse gas emissions, while other states must review their existing permitting authority and tell the agency if such emissions are not covered.
The agency is also proposing a federal plan to implement a new permitting program for these heat-trapping emissions to cover large facilities that would be regulated beginning next year. This is intended as a temporary measure until states revise their own plans and assume permitting oversight.
“States are best-suited to issue permits to sources of GHG emissions and have long-standing experience working together with industrial facilities,” according to an EPA press release.
EPA is holding a public hearing on this proposed rule Aug. 25, and hopes to finalize both proposals before Jan. 2.
The Clean Air Act requires states to develop implementation plans that EPA must approve that include requirements for issuing air permits. Since these would be first-time federal requirements for greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, states might need to modify their plans.
The proposed rules also essentially allow EPA to force permitting oversight in states that do not comply with the agency’s greenhouse gas regulations. “Today’s rules will help ensure that these sources will be able to get those permits regardless of where they are located,” according to EPA’s press release.
Texas recently joined 16 other court challenges to EPA’s “tailoring” rule — which was finalized in June and is intended to limit greenhouse gas limits to larger facilities. Alabama, North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), South Carolina and Nebraska filed a joint petition July 30 challenging the rule. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality filed a separate lawsuit.
Industry groups challenging the rule include the American Forest and Paper Association, National Association of Manufacturers, the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Portland Cement Association.
Sierra Club filed a legal challenge despite its support for the intent of the rule and the timeline for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. The group is concerned about the precedent it could set for other pollutants.
The Center for Biological Diversity has also challenged it, arguing it exempts too many polluters.