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EPA wins backing to limit power plant emissions

August 2012

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been given ‘unambiguous’ backing to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, despite opposition from corporations and trade associations led by the US Chamber of Commerce. 
 
The US Court of Appeals in Washington has ruled that, although more than 60 lawsuits have challenged the climate science used as a basis for the Clean Air Act, the “EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question”. 
 
New fossil fuel-fired power plants are now likely to be faced with regulation of their output of 1,000lb of CO2 per megawatt hour. In 2009, the EPA issued an endangerment finding that the six primary GHGs threaten public health and the environment. Corporations including Massey Energy, trade bodies such as the chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers, along with Texas, Virginia and other states, disputed the EPA’s authority to regulate emissions under the Clean Air Act.
 
Mindy Lubber, of Ceres, the coalition that promotes sustainability, welcomed the ruling, saying it “will provide certainty to businesses and investors, clarify the risks and opportunities for the US electric power sector, and serve as a long-term market signal to drive greater investment in lower-carbon electric power generation”. 
 
David Doniger, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “This is a huge victory for our children’s future. These rulings clear the way for EPA to keep moving forward under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from motor vehicles, new power plants and other big industrial sources.” 
 
Republican Senator James Inhofe, a climate change denier, is fighting the ruling and has introduced a resolution of disapproval aimed at preventing the EPA from implementing the Mercury & Air Toxics Standards for power plants. 
 
In response to Inhofe, a coalition of 34 institutional investors, led by Calvert Investments, has formally urged Congressional leaders to oppose the resolution.
 
 Drought conditions are being recorded in 56% of the continental US, reports the weekly Drought Monitor. 
 
Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, highlighted the drought, severe heat, wildfires and storms that have ravaged the US: “Climate change is under way, having consequences that are playing out in real time and, in the US at least, we are seeing more examples of extreme weather and climate-related events.” 



US Environmental Protection Agency | North America | Emissions

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