Reaction to EPA’s GHG Delay, As Republicans Step Up Their Attack

by | Mar 4, 2011

Environmental managers have reacted to the Environmental Protection Agency’s delay to its greenhouse gas rules, as Republicans in Congress stepped up their offensive with a bill that would permanently block such regulations.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) yesterday introduced a bill, called the Energy Tax Prevention Act, that would prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases from stationary sources, Reuters reported.

The introduction comes two days after the EPA announced that it is extending the reporting deadline for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large emitters and fuel suppliers, originally set for March 31. The agency said that the final version of an online reporting platform for company GHG reporting would be available this summer, and the data made available to the public “later this year”.

Today, Reuters reports that the EPA plans to propose performance standards for power plants in July, and for oil refineries in December.

Reacting to the delay at a National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM) conference in San Antonio, Texas, NRG Energy’s manager of environmental business Laura Scott said, “I think it was expected. They kept telling us, ‘We’re going to release our tool.’

“I feel it gives us a little breathing room,” Scott said, adding that the company was ready to comply with the regulations.

NAEM does not take a stance on any particular regulations or legislation.

NRG Energy has said that it wants the EPA to continue regulating greenhouse gas emissions, to give the company more certainty in investing in future power plants, Reuters reports.

Also reacting to the EPA’s delay, GE Oil & Gas global compliance assurance leader Gretchen Retteghieri told Environmental Leader, “I don’t think it’s going to change our status. We’ve seen some great targets met and will just keep going forward.”

The EPA introduced its regulations of GHG emissions during the last Congress, as it became increasingly clear that lawmakers would not be approving the creation of a cap-and-trade scheme or renewable electricity standard.

The agency’s regulations followed on from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, which obliged the EPA to determine whether carbon dioxide emissions endanger human health and welfare.

Upton and Inhofe’s bill is an update to a draft released early this month. It is likely to go to a vote first in the Republican-controlled house. The GOP hopes that it can then get support from Senate Democrats from industrial states, who are facing difficult elections in 2012, Reuters said.

At least one Senate Democrat, Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), has already signed on. In the House, Democrats Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.) are also supporting the bill.

“The EPA is pursuing a dramatic shift in our nation’s energy and environmental policy that would send shock waves through our economy,” said Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), the chair of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, a co-sponsor of the measure.

But Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who co-sponsored the climate bill that passed in the House in 2009, said of the Upton-Inhofe bill, “It exempts the nation’s largest polluters from regulation at the expense of public health and energy security.”

Analysts told Reuters that this legislation does not stand as good a chance as a bill introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), which would delay the EPA regulations from taking effect for two years.

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