Despite the fact Democrats' climate change legislation died in Congress in 2010, the Obama administration is pressing forward with new greenhouse gas regulations for America's power plants.
On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will regulate fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries starting in 2012. Together, these power sources account for 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases, the EPA says.
"We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans and contributes to climate change," EPA chief Lisa Jackson said in a statement. "These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home."
The LA Times reports:
The new move toward far-reaching emissions rules comes as environmentalists had begun to worry that the Obama administration was easing its push in order to avoid confrontations with major industries in advance of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Unlike regulations coming out Jan. 2 that address pollution only from new facilities or expansions, the schedule announced Thursday would eventually compel industry to reduce emissions across the board, including at older sites. Power plants and oil refineries account for almost 40% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the new plan, the EPA would issue proposed standards for power plants in July, go through a public comment and revision period, and announce final standards in May 2012. For the nation's refineries, proposed standards would come out next December and final standards in November 2012.
Industry groups and Republicans have already started to voice their opposition to the federal agency's plans. Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association told the Times that the energy plants have no ready technology to help reduce greenhouse gases.
"Regulations can't create technology that doesn't exist or change the laws of physics and economics, so the only way to comply with EPA's proposals would be to inflict massive increases in energy costs and massive increases in unemployment on families across our nation," Drevna said. "We will urge Congress to vote to stop EPA from implementing these greenhouse gas regulations."
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, warned that Thursday's announcement from the EPA marked "a crescendo" in the agency's "long regulatory assault against America's energy producers" and pledged Republican opposition for the coming year.
"The EPA has its foot firmly on the throat of our economic recovery," the Republican said. "We will not allow the administration to regulate what they have been unable to legislate."