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EPA to Require Large Emitters to Use Best GHG-Reduction Technologies

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson last week announced a new rule to address greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial facilities. The rule will require about 14,000 power plants, refineries and factories that produce large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions to obtain operating permits covering their emissions.

The permitting process would make installation the most up-to-date pollution control devices a mandatory element of these large facilities. Jackson made clear that smaller businesses and farms would be exempt from the requirements.

"[W]e can begin reducing emissions from the nation's largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy," Jackson said. "This is a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources -- those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources. This rule allows us to do what the Clean Air Act does best – reduce emissions for better health, drive technology innovation for a better economy, and protect the environment for a better future – all without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the better part of our economy."

The National Petrochemical Refiners Association (NPRA) released a statement immediately following the EPA's announcement saying in part that the "EPA lacks the legal authority to categorically exempt sources that exceed the Clean Air Act's major source threshold from permitting requirements, and this creates a troubling precedent for any agency actions in the future."

The proposal would be a change to the EPA's New Source Review (NSR) rule, which requires the installation of pollution control technologies on facilties deemed to be new sources of pollution; the new rule would include for the first time six greenhouse gases to the list of pollutants covered.

The NSR was a long-time contention between environmentalists and the George W. Bush administration trying to balance environmental and health concerns with placing additional operating costs on business; the addition of GHGs to the rule has increased the arguments, like the NPRA's, that the EPA is stepping outside its jurisdiction.

Photo CC-licensed by Flickr user seanmcgrath.

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