EPA May Classify Carbon Dioxide as a Pollutant

by | Mar 24, 2009

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carbon-smokestack21The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, a move that may have far-reaching impacts on manufacturing and business.

By concluding that greenhouse gases are pollutants that could endanger human health and welfare, the EPA is essentially over-riding a Bush-era decision to allow public comment on the threat of global warming-related pollution. The Bush-era EPA had made that decision after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 instructed the EPA to determine whether greenhouse gases should fall under the Clean Air Act.

If the White House approves the EPA proposal, which was sent with little fanfare March 20 to President Obama, it would mean possible emissions caps for businesses from auto manufacturers to steel forgeries to utilities, according to a Bloomberg article.

It also could mean regulation of automobile tailpipe emissions, according to the Detroit News.

The Obama Administration reportedly would prefer that Congress impose a cap-and-trade system, but this recent move is being held out as a backup plan if Congress does not move forward with a plan.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the EPA’s move is a potential boondoggle to the economic stimulus package.

“This will mean that all infrastructure projects, including those under the president’s stimulus initiative, will be subject to environmental review for greenhouse gases. Since not one of the projects has been subjected to that review, it is possible that the projects under the stimulus initiative will cease. This will be devastating to the economy,” said Bill Kovacs, vice president, of environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in an interview with The Washington Post.

In an editorial, The Washington Post said that the Clean Air Act is not suited to dealing with emissions that cause global warming. Instead, the editorial called for a carbon tax – “A carbon tax is a politically unpalatable solution for some. But it has advantages over a complex trading system and should be considered. And either a carbon fee or cap-and-trade would be far superior to bureaucratic regulation under the Clean Air Act”

Environmental Leader previously reported that the proposed rule to require reporting of GHG gases would fall under the Clean Air Act.

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