Obama Triggers Blackouts, (AP) – More than a dozen new industrial facilities to escape federal control of air pollution and the gases blamed for global warming after a top EPA official told a federal court that a long-delayed California power plant would not have to comply the rules.
The reversal of the EPA is the Obama is under fire from Republicans for a host of new air pollution regulations that they say will kill jobs and projects. Republican leaders in the House and Senate unveiled legislation Wednesday aimed at preventing the agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. It is the latest in a series of legislative efforts to undermine the EPA.
“This provision means a change in the position EPA has taken in this matter,” EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy says in the document that was filed in U.S. District Court Monday. In a statement, the agency said it was not fair or desirable for devices with applications in the last phase of the evaluation to meet standards that have recently taken effect.
Approximately 10 to 20 facilities from the hundreds waiting for air pollution permits may be exempted from new rules, the EPA said. But it is unclear how much the threshold would be to control global warming gases trigger met.
In the past year, the agency has placed new limits on smog-forming nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that causes acid rain and is linked to numerous respiratory diseases. And just one month ago, the first ever rules for the global warming emissions from large factories and power plants came into force.
“It creates a strong argument for treating us the same way you treat this guy,” said Michael Gerrard, an environmental law professor at Columbia University and former president of environmental department of the American Bar Association, the document revised. Gerrard said the move “is part of the efforts of the administration not to stop or be accused of stopping too many new projects.”
The EPA initially told the court that Avenal Power Center, LLC in central California would have to prove that its 600-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant would not violations of a new standard on the formation of smog-causing nitrogen oxide. The company sued the agency for taking too long to decide on the license, she served initially in February 2008.
EPA officials downplayed the decision and said it has no impact on their attitudes to global pollution control.
But Clean Air Watch President Frank O’Donnell called it “a disturbing reversal of policy.”
“It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this change is at least partly aimed at blunting the political attacks,” said O’Donnell. “But it may only stimulate the appetite and business people who want Congress to block health and environmental standards.”
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