EPA says it will delay greenhouse-gas standards for oil refineries

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it will delay its first-ever standards for greenhouse-gas emissions from oil refineries, the latest in a string of rules the agency has had to put off.

In a statement Monday, the agency said it wouldn’t issue its proposed rule in mid-December, the timetable set in a court agreement with environmental groups and states.

“EPA expects to need more time to complete work on greenhouse gas pollution standards for oil refineries, and is working with the litigants to develop a new schedule to replace the current date of mid-December for a rule proposal,” the agency said in a statement.

Environmentalists are already upset that President Obama decided in September to withdraw stronger ozone standards until 2013. Obama made the decision under pressure from business groups and Republicans who were concerned about the economic costs.

The American Petroleum Institute, an oil-and-gas trade group, hailed the decision to delay the oil refinery greenhouse-gas standards.

“We welcome the news that EPA will allow itself more time to analyze industry data before proposing the unprecedented and enormously complex greenhouse gas rules for refineries,” Howard Feldman, API director of regulatory and scientific affairs, said in a statement.

The news comes not long after the International Energy Agency’s warning that the world may have less than five years to take action on greenhouse-gas emissions before catastrophic global warming becomes locked in.

Citing that news, Democrats on Capitol Hill recently have called for policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, which come mainly from fossil-fuel combustion. Their efforts likely won’t go far because Republicans control the House, and many of them are skeptical of climate change, deny it altogether or oppose policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions on economic grounds.

The EPA already has had to delay greenhouse-gas standards for stationary sources multiple times, much to the disappointment of environmentalists.

The agency recently said it plans to propose greenhouse-gas standards for new power plants sometime next year.

It also has formally proposed greenhouse-gas standards for passenger vehicles. The standards would push up fleetwide average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025; the Obama administration says all its upcoming fuel-economy standards could slash 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions, almost what the U.S. emitted in all of 2009, over the lifetime of the covered vehicles.

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About The Author

Puneet Kollipara covers politics and the energy business from the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Houston Chronicle and Hearst. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics and physics from Washington University in St. Louis. Follow him on Twitter: @pkollipara