EPA shifts on emissions regulations, as oil companies embrace carbon tax over cap-and-trade

March 5, 2010 |

In Washington, climate change was on the docket with three key announcements. First, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia introduced legislation that would block EPA from reducing the pollution from power plants that causes global warming. David Doniger, Policy Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center, said: “It is not constructive to block the only working law on the books to curb global warming pollution and replace it with nothing. Blocking the Clean Air Act will do nothing to bring Congress closer to passing comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Rather than fighting global warming solutions, we need to focus on cutting carbon pollution in a way that will spur clean energy investment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that oil companies have shifted to a stance in favor of a carbon tax, after concluding that the House climate bill imposed more stringent limits on the oil industry than comparative limits on the coal and manufacturing industries that have stronger political ties. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said that she has been working for a  “linked-carbon fee” on transportation fuels, which would provide rebates to consumers against higher gas prices, and the Time is reporting that Senators Graham, Keyy and Lieberman are considering shifting the transportation industry out of the cap and trade system and into a carbon tax that would bring transportation tax money into transportation projects.

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Finally, the EPA has signaled that it will impose its initial greenhouse gas regulations on plants with 75,000 ons per year or higher, rather than 25,000 tons per year as originally it had proposed. The EPA said that state regulators had advised EPA that its proposed 25,000 ton cap would cover more business than originally thought, creating bureaucratic backlogs and retarding economic growth. EPA Administrator Jackson told Senators in budget hearings that the 75,000 ton cap would be good through 2001 and 2012.

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