EPA chief slams attempted delays on climate

WASHINGTON Mon Mar 8, 2010 4:12pm EST

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson pauses for a reporter's question after announcing a new Obama administration position that greenhouse gasses are a threat to public health at the EPA in Washington, December 7, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson pauses for a reporter's question after announcing a new Obama administration position that greenhouse gasses are a threat to public health at the EPA in Washington, December 7, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Environmental Protection Agency chief fought back on Monday against Senate attempts to challenge the agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, saying delaying action would be bad for the economy.

President Barack Obama has long said the EPA would take steps to regulate greenhouse gases if Congress failed to pass climate legislation. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate amid opposition from fossil fuel-rich states.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from oil-producing Alaska, has introduced legislation to stop EPA from taking steps under the Clean Air Act on climate pollution from tailpipes and smokestacks.

"Supposedly these efforts have been put forward to protect jobs," Lisa Jackson told a meeting at the National Press Club. "In reality, they will have serious negative economic effects."

Jackson said industry needs clear signals from the U.S. government on greenhouse gas regulations. Otherwise investors would have "little incentive" to put money into clean energy jobs. The country would fall further behind other countries in the race for clean energy, which would hurt the economy, she added.

Jackson said if EPA's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions was stopped, rules to make cars and light trucks become more efficient would be put on hold. That would leave "American automakers once again facing a patchwork of state standards," that could hurt profits at the companies which have experienced hard times already.

Democratic Senator John Rockefeller has also introduced a bill that would force a two-year delay on any EPA action, not stop it outright, as the Murkowski legislation would.

Jackson signaled there was room to compromise with industry in order to get a bill putting a price on carbon emissions. The U.S. energy and climate strategy should include incentives for offshore oil and natural gas drilling, as long as the environment is not hurt, she said.

"The energy strategy has to be varied and should include offshore drilling when it can be done in a way that is protective of the environment," Jackson told reporters at the National Press Club.

Senators John Kerry, a Democrat, Lindsey Graham, a Republican, and Joe Lieberman, an independent, are working on a compromise climate bill that could include incentives for offshore petroleum production and nuclear power. The bill faces an uncertain future amid opposition from energy-rich states.

Jackson said she has met with Graham and Kerry on the bill and that it should also include incentives for alternatives, like offshore wind power, and energy efficiency.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Julie Ingwersen)

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Comments (2)
wake-up wrote:
any form of carbon abatement will add 25-40% to the capital cost of fossil burning facilities. This would include not only power plants but refineries, pulp & paper facilities, steel mills, cement factories, etc. Climate science is not a certainty and and man’s impact on global temperatures has been called into question even more so lately. We should take a step back and dedicate monies to (1) determine if man in fact has an impact on global temperatures and if so (2) what should be done. Man’s contribution to GHGs is about .28% that should be enough justification to support the above game plan. Study first and then draw a conclusion rather than drawing a conclusion and force the facts to prove the decision.

Mar 09, 2010 8:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
Sc0tt wrote:
Congress and particularly the Senate are proving to be completely incompetent at solving any major problem. Though it would be more desirable to have Congress pass legislation to send a clear signal to industry about the future of carbon pollution in America, at least the EPA is going to stand up and start regulating.

The whole point of climate legislation is to put a steadily rising price on carbon pollution so it can be phased out. Guess what “wake-up”, we’ve already determined that humans are significantly changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and what should be done about it. We’ve known for decades about the dangers of climate changing pollution and the science has never been more certain. It’s only the “Merchants of Doubt” that would have us stay in the status-quo indefinitely. The same interests that had us doubt the harmful effects of tobacco, SO2 (acid rain), and CFC’s (ozone hole). They love to throw around random percentages and barely coherent long debunked talking points to obscure and paralyze the changes that desperately need to be made. Indeed I would encourage people to do some studying and you will know in your heart that we can’t put all this stuff up into the atmosphere without any consequence. While this is a complicated issue, the basic principles are really just common sense.

Mar 09, 2010 3:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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