EPA Issues Proposed Finding that GHG is a Pollutant that Endangers Public Health -- The Historic Shift in EPA Continues. As anticipated, the EPA this week issued a proposed ruling which classifies Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as a pollutant. The proposed finding starts a public comment for six months.
This action along with other actions in the last 120 days continues a historic shift at the EPA toward regulation of GHG, increasing the likelihood that some type of regulation will occur.
This action leads to a potential scenario in which the EPA would regulate GHG emissions even without a federal law (this follows a 2007 Supreme Court ruling confirming this EPA power). The EPA has repeatedly, however, expressed its desire for a new Congressional law.
The choice now is between regulation by the EPA under the Clean Air Act or new GHG regulation that is passed by congress (the Waxman/Markey bill or some variant of it).
Many experts believe that if the EPA acts under its existing powers that numerous lawsuits would be filed and the regulation could be held up for years. The passage of a new congressional law would minimize this.
The proposed ruling undoubtedly adds importance to the Congressional hearings on the Waxman/Markey bill, which start next week.
What does this mean for business in the US? This ruling along with other recent EPA actions and the introduction of the Waxman/Markley bill continue to increase the likelihood that some type of GHG regulation will occur in the US in the next 2-4 years.