Wednesday, December 09, 2009

API Says EPA Endangerment Finding "Clearly Politically Motivated"

Dec 7: As WIMS reported yesterday, U.S. EPA's endangerment finding announced on December 7 [See WIMS 12/7/09, 12/08/09] has resulted in the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) announcing it will file suit in Federal court to overturn finding and various mixed reactions from interest groups and politicians. Also, in a harshly critical statement, Jack Gerard, President of the American Petroleum Institute said there was no pressing reason for the finding and EPA’s action was "clearly politically motivated."

Gerard said, “This action poses a threat to every American family and business if it leads to regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Such regulation would be intrusive, inefficient, and excessively costly. It could chill job growth and delay business expansion. The Clean Air Act was meant to control traditional air pollution, not greenhouse gases that come from every vehicle, home, factory and farm in America. A fit-for-purpose climate law is a much preferred solution.

“There was no compelling deadline that forced EPA’s hand on this decision. It is a decision that is clearly politically motivated to coincide with the start of the Copenhagen climate summit. EPA’s finding is inadequate, unsupported by the record and fails to demonstrate a significant risk of harm to public health or welfare. API members are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in technology to reduce them further. Between 2000 and 2008, U.S.-based oil and natural gas companies invested $58 billion in low-carbon energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more than either the federal government or all other U.S.-based private industry combined.”

In a related action, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of Energy & Resources Policy Keith McCoy also issued a statement saying, "The NAM is concerned that the EPA did not seriously take into consideration any of the thousands of comments manufacturers made on this proposal. The endangerment finding will have a cascading effect on the ability of all manufacturers to grow and prosper. By declaring GHG emissions a threat to public health and welfare through its endangerment finding, the EPA is paving the way to begin regulating carbon emissions across the board, including large stationary sources such as manufacturing plants, hospitals and libraries under the Clean Air Act.

"Let me be clear: the NAM supports cost-effective efforts to address climate change but believes the appropriate authority to address this should be Congress. The EPA is moving forward with an agenda that will put additional burdens on manufacturers, cost jobs and drive up the price of energy. This finding comes when unemployment is hovering at 10 percent, and many manufacturers are struggling to stay in business. It is doubtful that this endangerment finding will achieve its stated goal, but it is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy. Our nation needs a comprehensive federal policy that will achieve environmental results without inflicting unnecessary economic harm. This is a complex issue that deserves a rigorous, public and transparent debate in Congress."

NAM acknowledged that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson indicated that she would prefer Congress address this issue. But said, "therefore, we are disappointed the EPA chose this power grab move. We will continue to work with Congress to address this important issue and urge the EPA to think about the economic harm it is inflicting before moving forward with additional rules."

In announcing the endangerment finding, EPA noted that its "findings do not in and of themselves impose any emission reduction requirements but rather allow EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint rulemaking with the Department of Transportation." EPA indicated in a release that "President Obama and Administrator Jackson have publicly stated that they support a legislative solution to the problem of climate change and Congress’ efforts to pass comprehensive climate legislation. However, climate change is threatening public health and welfare, and it is critical that EPA fulfill its obligation to respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined that greenhouse gases fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants."

EPA issued the proposed findings in April 2009 [See WIMS 4/27/09] and held a 60-day public comment period. The agency received more than 380,000 comments, which it said "were carefully reviewed and considered during the development of the final findings."

Access the statement from API (click here). Access the statement from NAM (click here). Access a release from EPA on the finding (click here). Access EPA's Endangerment website for complete information and background (click here).