EPA Charts Course to Address Global Warming Pollution from Large Emitters

September 30, 2009

Contact: Tony Kreindler, akreindler@edf.org, 202-572-3378

(Washington, DC – September 30, 2009) Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a blueprint to address greenhouse gas emissions from large power plants and industrial sources under the nation’s clean air laws.

Under today’s announcement, new power plants and industrial sources across the nation will be required to address heat-trapping pollution as part of construction and operating permits. The new clean air global warming standards for industrial sources would take effect when the Agency finalizes its proposed greenhouse gas standards from motor vehicles in March 2010.

A key element of the policy will shield small sources from regulation, focusing the nation’s resources on cost-effective reductions from big emitters.

“Today’s action focuses federal climate policy on the largest sources of heat-trapping pollution,” said Mark MacLeod, director of special projects at Environmental Defense Fund. “EPA’s leadership to limit emissions from the biggest sources is smart policy that can achieve big results for the country.”

EPA’s “tailoring” proposal would establish a regulatory threshold of 25,000 tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions. The threshold would focus EPA policies at large sources that collectively comprise over 80 percent of the nation’s heat-trapping emissions.

Major federal climate legislative proposals also use this threshold. Today, Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry also introduced comprehensive legislation to cost-effectively address global warming pollution and advance clean energy solutions.

A 25,000 ton annual carbon dioxide threshold is comparable to the emissions from:
(1) 131 rail cars of coal consumed
(2) 58,000 barrels of oil consumed, or
(3) The emissions from the annual energy use of about 2,200 homes.

EPA’s proposal applies the Clean Air Act to the problem of global warming using common sense. By focusing on the largest emission sources, the agency will use its scarce resources where they have the greatest impact in reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. This legally sound approach to complex problems, known as administrative necessity, has long been recognized by the nation’s courts.