Engineering News

Oil, Coal Sectors: EPA is 'Railroading' GHG Comment Period
November 17, 2010

The U.S. oil and coal industries have accused the Obama administration of "railroading" through a set of measures to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

The criticism surfaced Wednesday after the Environmental Protection Agency said it would cut off comments on its new greenhouse gas guidance on Dec. 1, three weeks after the agency released the document.

The guidance marks a pivotal moment in the development of greenhouse gas standards. Released Nov. 10, it tells state officials how to grant permits to power plants, refineries and other major sources of greenhouse gas pollution.

"Right now, we are asking for more time in the process," said Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute. "EPA is trying to railroad this through in too short a time period."

Under standard rulemaking procedures, government agencies carve out several weeks for stakeholders to weigh in on the development of new rules. EPA is soliciting feedback on a guidance document, however, which is non-binding.

Starting Jan. 2, state officials will use the EPA's guidance to identify steps greenhouse gas emitters can take to reduce their pollution.

"We are concerned that haste will once again make waste," a spokesman for the National Mining Association said.

State clean-air officials defend the EPA's timing and say the agency had to act quickly to prepare for the January deadline.

State officials also say the industry is dragging its heels on the issue, hoping Congress will intervene and block the EPA from implementing the permits. A bill proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W. Va.) would prevent the EPA from imposing the permits for two years.

"There's no need to hold back the guidance or propose a protracted comment period," said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. "It's more important to get the guidance out there."

Debate over EPA's greenhouse gas policies has been heating up in recent months. Several companies and trade associations have filed lawsuits to block the agency from moving forward.

A spokesman for EPA was not available for comment.

Source: Dow Jones Newswires

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