In hearings before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee Tuesday, several moderate Democrats expressed concerns that the EPA is jumping the gun in mandating new curbs on greenhouse gas emissions across a slew of industries.
EPA estimates that 14,000 major polluters would need to get the permits. Small business, farms, restaurants and other small businesses would be exempt from the regulations.
Several Democrats said in Tuesday’s hearings that they would like to include language in the legislation that would stop the EPA form implementing a 2007 Supreme Court opinion that would mandate new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions for a slew of industries.
First of all, EPA’s assertion that they can selectively regulate carbon emissions sources under the Clean Air Act is simply false. Heritage fellow Ben Lieberman explains:
Once something is regulated as a pollutant under one section of the act, it is automatically regulated under several other sections. Fully applying the rest of the Clean Air Act to sources of carbon dioxide emissions would result in severe adverse economic consequences.
For example, the stringent New Source Review permitting program applies to any source that emits 250 tons of any regulated pollutant per year, and in some cases as little as 100 tons per year. Most pollutants currently regulated are trace compounds like smog or mercury that are typically measured in parts per billion, so this threshold level sensibly distinguishes between minor contributors and significant ones.
But carbon dioxide is not a trace compound. Background levels of naturally occurring carbon dioxide alone measure 275 parts per million, and even relatively small usage of fossil fuels could reach 250 tons. Thus, even the kitchen in a restaurant, the heating system in an apartment or office building, or the activities associated with running a farm could cause these and other entities to be regulated–potentially more than a million buildings, 200,000 manufacturing operations, and 20,000 farms.
New Source Review permitting imposes an average of $125,000 in costs and takes 866 hours to complete. These and other onerous programs would now be imposed, for the first time, on a million or more entities beyond the large power plants and factories that have already been regulated in this manner.
So what is the left doing in the face of these economy crippling regulations? Saving their own skins. Again from Politico:
Big livestock interests and Great Lakes shippers won key regulatory concessions from Democrats Tuesday in a double blow to President Barack Obama’s climate change and clean air agenda.
The Environmental Protection Agency would be effectively barred from mandating the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions generated by large-scale cattle, dairy and hog producers. In addition, 13 Great Lakes cargo steamships won a last-minute exemption from a proposed rule to require lower-sulfur fuel to reduce harmful emissions.
In each case, the legislative riders will run only for the one-year life of a $32.24 billion natural resources bill that is otherwise very generous in funding the EPA, as well as parks and wildlife programs within the Interior Department. But the back-to-back regulatory fights show the strain on Democratic loyalties caused by the faltering economy.
No less than House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.), backed by maritime unions, was a major player in protecting the Great Lakes shippers. And the agriculture greenhouse gas requirements touched off a revolt among farm state Democrats, who threatened to bring down the entire bill if the legislative rider was included.