EPA Plans to Keep Carbno Rules Limited to Top Polluters

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed keeping U.S. limits on permitting requirements for greenhouse-gas emissions to power plants and other sources that discharge more than 100,000 tons per year.

The proposal, posted on the agency’s website on Feb. 24 without notification, would maintain standards established in 2010 for new or revamped plants. The rules require companies building qualifying plants to get state permits, and to use “best available” control technologies.

The plan was posted by the agency as the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington plans to start hearing arguments tomorrow from states and industries arguing in part that the EPA’s so-called tailoring rule, which limits the businesses covered by its standards, violates the law.

“This weakens the argument that there is an inexorable push from EPA to regulate every hot dog stand in the country,” David Doniger, policy director for climate at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, said in an interview.

Without maintaining limits for power-plant emissions, state agencies would get thousands of applications and “local permitting authorities would be overwhelmed and the program’s abilities to manage air quality would be severely impaired,” the EPA said in a fact sheet posted on its website.

The EPA is advancing plans to regulate carbon emissions after Congress failed to pass climate-change legislation. A bill to limit carbon pollution stalled in the U.S. Senate after a “cap-and-trade” measure passed the House in June 2009. The Obama administration is reviewing an EPA proposal to set rules on the carbon-dioxide emissions from new power plants, which would exceed current permitting requirements. Those regulations are overdue.

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