WASHINGTON (December 18, 2008) -- Late this afternoon, Stephen Johnson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued a memorandum declaring that it would not, and need not, regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution from power plants or any other industrial facility. This decision disregards a previous landmark decision reached by EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) that rejected the same arguments repeated by Johnson today, according to experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“It’s a marvel to behold an EPA action that so utterly disdains global warming responsibility and disdains the law at the same time,” said John Walke, Director of the Clean Air program at NRDC. “EPA’s Administrator is defying the agency’s own judges, the Clean Air Act, and the course of history that recognizes the urgency in tackling global warming. The Administrator’s 11th hour action is a transparently cynical attempt to tie the hands of the incoming administration and prevent Clean Air Act regulation of global warming pollution. The ultimate consolation, however, is that today’s EPA offense is so ham-handed, so divorced from the law, that it can and should be reversed by the Obama administration with the stroke of a pen.”
In mid-November, an EPA panel of three judges called the Environmental Appeals Board had ruled that EPA had given no valid reason for refusing to reduce global warming CO2 pollution from new coal-fired power plant. The judges returned the permit for a proposed power plant unit in Utah to the EPA Denver regional office responsible for that permit. The regional office was supposed to re-propose a new permit, invite public comment, and provide valid legal reasons why EPA would – or would not – reduce CO2 pollution from this power plant. Instead, Johnson’s action today short-circuited that process and over-ruled EPA’s judges.
The EAB decision followed a 2007 Supreme Court ruling recognizing that carbon dioxide, the principle source of global warming, is a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act.