EPA Proposes Greenhouse Gas Permitting Rules

August 12, 2010

The Hill

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.