Greenhouse-Gas Emission Rules for U.S. Refineries Delayed by EPA

Midwest Refinery Upgrades Boost Canadian Crudes
The ConocoPhillips Co. refinery stands in Richmond, California, U.S. BP Plc, Marathon Petroleum Corp . and ConocoPhillips are spending $9.8 billion on crude units and cokers to break down lower-value petroleum into gasoline and diesel. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The Obama administration will miss a mid-December deadline to set rules limiting greenhouse gases from refineries, after failing to set standards for power-plant emissions and shelving tougher limits for ozone.

Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have said the the emission standards threaten the economy and are seeking to postpone or block them. Environmental groups such as Clean Air Watch said the administration is caving in to such criticism as President Barack Obama runs for re-election.

“It is one more delay of a promised environmental standard,” Frank O’Donnell, president of the Washington-based group, said yesterday in an e-mail. “It’s confirmation of the oil industry’s political clout and the White House’s pre-election timidity.”

The agency needed time to complete standards for refineries and planned to set a new timetable beyond the mid-December deadline, Alcantara Betsaida, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail yesterday.

The EPA missed a September deadline for proposing limits on greenhouse gases from power plants. Obama quashed on Sept. 2 proposed EPA rules on ground-level ozone, which produces smog, saying he wanted to ease regulatory burdens as the economy recovers.

The EPA began restricting emissions from industrial polluters in January based on a finding that greenhouse gases pose a hazard to public health. The agency acted after Congress failed to enact limits on carbon-dioxide pollution.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA had authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.

‘Unprecedented, Enormously Complex’

“We welcome the news that EPA will allow itself more time to analyze industry data before proposing the unprecedented and enormously complex greenhouse-gas rules for refineries,” Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the Washington-based American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement. “EPA’s application of the Clean Air Act in a way that was never intended by Congress threatens to unnecessarily raise the cost of producing America’s energy.”

Republicans led by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have opposed the EPA’s push to limit carbon-dioxide emissions.

“It now appears that the administration agrees with Senator Murkowski that the EPA is doing too much, too fast without consideration of the impact on the economic health of the nation,” her spokesman, Robert Dillon, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Representative John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, said the administration’s effort to increase regulations “is bad for the economy and job retention and creation. This action follows other reversals and is welcomed,” Shimkus said in an e-mail.

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