The U.S. Chamber of Commerce petitioned U.S. EPA yesterday for reconsideration of the agency's finding that greenhouse gases "endanger" public health and welfare, a determination that sets the stage for broad climate change regulations.
"The Chamber believes that the right way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere is through bipartisan legislation and comprehensive international agreements," said the chamber's chief legal officer and general counsel Steven Law in a statement. "The wrong way is through the EPA's endangerment finding, which triggers Clean Air Act regulation."
The petition is the latest in a series of the chamber's attacks against EPA's climate policies. The organization filed one of 16 lawsuits challenging EPA's endangerment finding in a federal appeals court (Greenwire, Feb. 15). And last summer, the group petitioned EPA for an "on the record" hearing to review data that the agency used to support its proposed finding, threatening to sue if the agency denied its request (E&ENews PM, Aug. 25, 2009).
The chamber yesterday urged EPA to reconsider its finding in light of new information that became available only after the close of the period for public comment. The group also asked EPA to stay the endangerment finding until the agency has acted on the petition for reconsideration.
"According to the EPA, regulating greenhouse gases under the [Clean Air] Act would subject an additional 6 million small facilities -- including hospitals, small farms, restaurants, hotels and office buildings -- to an onerous and costly permitting process," Law said. "The EPA has admitted that such an unprecedented regulatory expansion would 'paralyze' and 'overwhelm' permitting authorities, leaving businesses waiting months or even years to get the permits they need to keep operating."
Those factors undermine the determination and justify reopening the process, the chamber asserts.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has repeatedly said that her agency plans to gradually phase in permitting requirements for stationary sources in a way that will give businesses and regulators time to plan and will avoid imposing an undue burden on the economy.
Jackson said last month that EPA will not begin phasing in stationary source regulations until next year, and EPA is planning to issue a "tailoring" rule this month to limit permitting requirements to only the largest greenhouse gas emitters.
EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said the science surrounding climate change is settled and that the agency is proceeding with common-sense measures that will help move the United States into a leadership position in the "green" economy.
"Unfortunately," Andy said, "special interests and other defenders of the status quo are now turning to the courts in an attempt to stall progress. EPA is confident the finding will withstand legal challenge, allowing the Agency to protect the American people from the significant dangers posed by greenhouse gases and carbon pollution."
Click here to read the petition.