EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change. These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home."
Several states, local governments and environmental organizations sued EPA over the Agency's failure to update the pollution standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries. Under the settlement agreement, EPA said it will propose standards for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011 and will issue final standards in May 2012 and November 2012, respectively. EPA said the schedule will allow the Agency "to host listening sessions with the business community, states and other stakeholders in early 2011, well before the rulemaking process begins, as well as to solicit additional feedback during the routine notice and comment period. Together this feedback will lead to smart, cost-effective and protective standards that reflect the latest and best information." (See link to settlement details below).
The first set of actions are designed to give EPA authority to permit GHGs in seven states (AZ, AR, FL, ID, KS, OR, and WY) until the state or local agencies can revise their permitting regulations to cover these emissions. Secondly, EPA took additional steps to disapprove part of Texas' Clean Air Act permitting program and the Agency will also issue GHG permits to facilities in the state. EPA said the actions would ensure that large industrial facilities will be able to receive permits for greenhouse gas emissions regardless of where they are located.
In the second set of actions, EPA issued final rules to ensure that there are no Federal laws in place that require any state to issue a permit for GHG emissions below levels outlined in the tailoring rule. EPA indicated it has worked closely with the states to ensure that the transition to permitting for GHGs is smooth. EPA said, "States are best suited to issue permits to sources of GHG emissions and have experience working with industrial facilities. EPA will continue to work with states to help develop, submit, and obtain approval of the necessary revisions to enable the affected states to issue air permits to GHG-emitting sources.
Earthjustice which represented the EDF and Sierra Club in a 2006 lawsuit challenging EPA's most recent power plant standards and represents Sierra Club, NRDC, and the Environmental Integrity Project in a 2008 lawsuit that led to the latest agreement on the timetable for refinery standards said, "The EPA has a legal duty to respond to the very real dangers of global warming pollution by setting strong limits on carbon pollution from power plants and refineries. These are the nation's biggest industrial sources of global warming pollution and deserve top priority."