Sunday, June 21, 2009

Will the EPA block regulation on Carbon reduction?

According to the WE campaign (we can solve the climate crisis), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the opportunity to facilitate, or to stand in the way of, future regulation of Carbon emissions. This could strongly affect Obama's capability to influence climate change through regulation:

The EPA recently released a finding that would allow the Obama administration to limit carbon pollution. But it’s not final until the public weighs in and the deadline to submit comments is this Tuesday.

Based on this very sparse information, I wanted to find out a little more. Here is the result of scouring the web to find what is actually going on. The most understandable information I could find was based on a public hearing led by Dina Kruger, the director of the Climate Change Division at the EPA:

[on the EPA] proposal that finds that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health and welfare, and that greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles cause and contribute to the climate change problem under the Clean Air Act.
The EPA is unable to make any rules until all stakeholders have a change to comment. Stakeholders include car makers, big-oil, lobbyists and one or two hundred million individual citizens. The rest of the several billion people in the world affected by the decisions of the EPA are not represented.

How can people put their opinions forward? Visit the EPA comments page on the WE website is one option. The EPA website also hides away how to comment directly. Go to the bottom of the page: Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions...

For those of you wanting a little more background, I found this brief history (dating from 1999, with all the action in the last 2 years) of Carbon legislation at the start of the Public Hearing document.

In 1999, EPA received a petition to regulate emissions of four greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles and engines, under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act. EPA denied this petition in 2003.

A lawsuit was filed, which resulted in the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, in April 2007, where the court rejected EPA's reasons denying the petition, and found that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

The court stated that the EPA administrator must follow the statutory criteria of Section 202(a) and make a determination regarding the role of greenhouse gas emissions for motor vehicles in contributing to the climate change problem.

The options for this determination were either that greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles do cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare, that such emissions do not cause or contribute to a threat, or that the science is too uncertain to make a judgment.

In July 2008, in response to the Supreme Court's decision, EPA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Regulating Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act. This ANPR made no determination regarding endangerment but rather requested comment on the implications of making an endangerment finding, and the underlying science.

On April 17th, 2009, after a thorough scientific review, Administrator Lisa Jackson signed the proposed finding that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that endangers the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

The proposed finding identifies six greenhouse gases that are reasonably anticipated to threaten public health and welfare. The proposal also finds that the combined emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons from new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases, and hence to the threat of climate change.

EPA's proposed finding does not include any proposed regulation. And before taking any additional steps to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, EPA would conduct appropriate rulemaking process and consider stakeholder input.
Massachusetts - a low lying state is threatened by Global Warming, with the chance that it will lose a large quantity of land and housing (currently inhabited by tens of thousands of people) if sea levels rise. I'm one of them! Now perhaps this proposed regulation is an opportunity for those people, with the population of the other east and west coast states, to get together and save their environment and their homes, and the lungs of everyone from more airbourne pollution.

A post from the Improving It blog

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