Saturday, April 18, 2009

EPA declares greenhouse gases threats to health, opening door to tighter rules on coal, agriculture

The Environmental Protection Agency classified greenhouse gases as threats to public health yesterday, a policy change that could lead to tougher regulation of coal-fired power plants and other emitters of carbon dioxide. It could also spur a "cap and trade" system that could provide much new income for farmers, while raising the stakes for ethanol producers and spurring effort to limit methane emissions from animal agriculture. Here is EPA's news release; here is its detailed explanation.

"What happens next is unclear," writes Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post. "The agency's proposed finding is likely to intensify pressure on Congress to pass legislation that would limit greenhouse gases, as President Obama, many lawmakers and some industry leaders prefer. But cap-and-trade legislation, which would limit emissions and allow emitters to trade pollution allowances, is fiercely opposed by a coalition of Republicans and Democrats from fossil-fuel-dependent Midwestern states who fear that such a system would raise energy prices and hurt the nation's economy. If Congress doesn't act, the Obama administration is likely to press ahead with at least some curbs on carbon dioxide and other pollutants blamed for global warming. ... Officials from the industries that stand to be most affected indicated yesterday that they would rather help shape standards through the legislative process than defer to federal regulators." (Read more)

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