The Environmental Protection Agency turned down a demand from U.S. environmental groups that it curb greenhouse-gas emissions from aircraft, ships or off-highway vehicles such as trucks used in mining operations.
The agency sent a court-ordered response today to the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups, saying that it wouldn’t issue regulations for those sources of carbon dioxide anytime soon.
“EPA does not have the resources to consider all possible sources of climate change in the near or medium term,” the agency said in its response to the groups, which was due today. “EPA has directed its efforts at categories of sources that are the largest contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions.”
Aircraft, ships and engines on vehicles operating off roads and highways are responsible for 24 percent of U.S. mobile-source greenhouse-gas emissions and emit approximately 290,000 tons of soot every year, according to the environmental groups that petitioned for EPA action.
“The Obama administration’s decision to shelve these common-sense pollution-reduction measures is tragic and absurd,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Tucson, Arizona-based center’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement. “Cost-effective solutions to reduce greenhouse emissions from ships, airplanes and non-road engines are available now.”
The EPA’s response was filed a day before the planned arrival by agency Administrator Lisa Jackson at a United Nations summit in Rio de Janiero, known at Rio+20, where nations are aiming to make progress in negotiating curbs on climate change and boosting the green economy.
The EPA has agreed with automakers on fuel-efficiency standards that will require improvements in per-gallon mileage through 2025, and it issued proposed rules mandating reductions in greenhouse gases from new power plants. Both of those rules, and the underlying finding that lets the EPA regulate carbon dioxide, are under attack in court, with decisions likely in the coming weeks.
In its responses, the EPA said it had no plans to regulate emissions from ships or mining vehicles. For aircraft, a review of whether to regulate emissions might take years to complete, according to the agency.