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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 20, 2010

KERRY, LIEBERMAN, GRAHAM WORKING ON LIMITING EPA AND STATE AUTHORITY OVER GREENHOUSE GAS CONTROL

NY TIMES - Some Democratic senators and state and local air regulators are concerned that the latest draft of a Senate climate and energy bill would unduly strip authority from U.S. EPA and states.

Details emerged earlier this week that draft legislation from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) would curb EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and would limit states' climate laws and regulations. But that decision is not sitting well with some Democrats. . .

An industry official who met Wednesday in a closed-door session with architects of the bill said the legislation would block EPA from requiring New Source Review and Title V operating permits from stationary sources based on their greenhouse gas emissions. The draft would also block the agency from regulating greenhouse gases as air toxics and from setting nationwide emission limits -- known as National Ambient Air Quality Standards -- based on the emissions' effects on climate change, that person said. Additionally, it would pre-empt state and regional cap-and-trade programs.

Industries are eager to streamline any forthcoming climate rules under a consistent federal program.

"We believe there should be one uniform congressional policy on greenhouse gases -- not state by state, not overlapping with other environmental requirements -- one program," the industry official said.

But state regulators are wary that the draft bill could overly restrict their authority.

"I hope the sponsors, in pursuing support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industrial groups, have not crossed the line on pre-emption," said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Becker's group represents state and local air pollution control agencies nationwide.

"Climate change is such a monumental problem that action at all levels -- local, state and federal -- is essential if we are serious about achieving our ultimate goals," Becker added. "Future climate legislation should build upon this successful partnership, not supplant it, and preserve the rights of state and local governments to take more stringent actions where needed."

Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, said his group would oppose Clean Air Act limitations. "I think if there are Clean Air Act pre-emptions in it, it's a deal-killer," Snape said. "We're going to go after it as hard as we know how."

Snape's group has been a vocal proponent of preserving EPA's Clean Air Act authorities under any climate legislation. The organization was also among 26 environmental groups that sent a letter (pdf) to senators this week urging them to oppose a bill sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) that seeks to postpone EPA climate rules for stationary sources for two years.


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