The delay in requiring power plants and other industrial sites to obtain federal pollution permits for emitting greenhouse gases formally affirms an agency announcement last month that it would phase in the regulation of climate-altering gases over a number of years, starting with the largest sources.
EPA has pledged to take sensible steps to address the billions of tons of greenhouse gas pollution that threaten Americans' health and welfare, and is providing time for large industrial facilities and state governments to put in place cost-effective, innovative technologies to control and reduce carbon pollution.
Today's action determines that Clean Air Act construction and operating permit requirements for the largest emitting facilities will begin when the first national rule controlling GHGs takes effect. If finalized as proposed, the rule limiting GHG emissions for cars and light trucks would trigger these requirements in January 2011 - the earliest model year 2012 vehicles meeting the standards can be sold in the United States. The agency expects to issue final vehicle GHG standards shortly.
EPA has committed to focusing its GHG permitting requirements on the largest sources. The agency will make a decision later this spring on the amount of GHGs facilities can emit before having to include limits for these emissions in their permits.
Today's action is the final step in EPA's reconsideration of the December 18, 2008 memorandum entitled 'EPA's Interpretation of Regulations that Determine Pollutants Covered by Federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit Program.' The final action clarifies when GHGs and other pollutants are covered under Clean Air Act permitting programs.
S. William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said in an New York Times interview that today's announcement of a delay in imposing permit requirements will be 'extraordinarily helpful' to every state.
'Providing nine additional months for states to revise their clean air laws and regulations will enable these agencies to closely align their programs with the federal permitting rules, thereby assuring a smooth and rational transition to the daunting but important challenges of regulating greenhouse gases from industrial facilities,' Mr. Becker said.
More information and the letter Administrator Jackson sent last month outlining this approach and timeline: http://www.epa.gov/nsr/guidance.html