The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

EPA's Latest GHG Maneuver

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted August 13, 2010

The regulators are coming. They are marching into your communities and into your local businesses. They are usurping the rights of state governments. And they are trying to change the nation's primary clean air law to make it suit their purposes.

These regulators are from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and their goal is to twist and turn the language in the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). It's estimated that six million stationary GHG sources, ranging from large industries to big-box stores, churches, athletic complexes, malls, office buildings and farms, would have to get permits to emit GHGs under the EPA's proposed regulations. And the states, charged with managing the permitting process, will be swamped. Many states say they don't have enough people, time or money to process the applications and issue permits.

No worries, EPA said in a news release yesterday. It's proposing to order 13 states to change their air quality implementation plans to cover GHG emissions and to advise all other states to review their plans. If they can't revise their plans by January 2011, EPA will step in and manage the permitting process for them. Plus, as the EPA noted, the so-called Tailoring Rule will delay enforcement for smaller emitters, thus reducing the initial paperwork burden.

Some members of Congress have expressed alarm over the EPA's proposed GHG regulations. Critics have said the EPA regulatory plan is tantamount to holding a gun to Congress's head to force it to pass a climate bill. And lawyers assert that EPA's Tailoring Rule illegally attempts to rewrite the Clean Air Act. Only the legislative branch of the U.S. government has that authority.

Yet, the regulators march on.

One thing is certain: If EPA's steady advance toward GHG regulations isn't stopped, the economic consequences could be serious. The regulations will likely add to the cost of doing business, slow business expansion, destroy jobs, and fire a shot at the sputtering economic recovery.