The press conference
is set for was at 1:15 p.m. Eastern but the news has been expected for months: the Environmental Protection Agency will formally start laying the groundwork to regulate carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse’ gases.
Here’s the link to the documents the EPA posted on the endangerment finding. Sound bites from the press conference are here.
It was clear since March the administration would take this route (heck, one could have guessed this would be the case even before Obama won the election more than a year ago — a dual track of climate change legislation in Congress and using the Clean Air Act). The real question is what’s next?
If Congress comes up with a system to regulate carbon it would trump the EPA. That may happen in the spring as we’re seeing some discussion of acceptable terms from GOP stalwarts (even with ‘Climategate’ out there).
The American Petroleum Institute said the expected action ” …would be intrusive, inefficient, and excessively costly. It could chill job growth and delay business expansion. The Clean Air Act was meant to control traditional air pollution, not greenhouse gases that come from every vehicle, home, factory and farm in America. A fit-for-purpose climate law is a much preferred solution.”
“There was no compelling deadline that forced EPA’s hand on this decision. It is a decision that is clearly politically motivated to coincide with the start of the Copenhagen climate summit. EPA’s finding is inadequate, unsupported by the record and fails to demonstrate a significant risk of harm to public health or welfare.
* updates *
Shell also chimed in with its concerns about using the Clean Air Act:
We believe regulation under the CAA could have negative consequences for businesses, jobs and our economy. It will lead to project delays, years of litigation and regulatory uncertainty while businesses and agencies are waiting for the courts to rule. Instead, Shell believes a market-based cap and trade bill is the surest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest possible cost to the economy and the consumer. A cap-and-trade system will spur innovation, deploy technology and create jobs. Shell is actively engaged in helping Congress craft and pass a workable climate bill.
But environmental groups are glad to see the Clean Air Act used this way:
“The Clean Air Act is tried and true,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “It has a nearly 40-year track record of cost-effectively cutting dangerous pollution to protect our health and environment. EPA is now putting this proven law to work as one critical tool in the fight against global warming,”
Indeed, the timing of the announcement, on the first day of the Copenhagen climate change talks, is hardly a coincidence. Chronicle guest blogger Victor Flatt, who will be in Copenhagen as a credentialled participant, says the meetings will still be important even without a U.S. climate change law in hand. There are plenty of issues to work through:
“So what does a successful outcome look like? In my opinion, we want to see an agreement on targets for reduction, a commitment for reduction from the largest entities (with differences expected between the type and intensity of cuts between the developed and the developing world), and a way for those responsible for climate change so far (i.e. the developed countries) to genuinely assist the locations that will be harmed.”