To settle a lawsuit with 12 states and other plaintiffs, the EPA has committed to controlling greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electric power plants and petroleum refineries.
Electric utilities and power plants are reported to emit 40% of U.S. greenhouse gases (GHGs), primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4, natural gas).
EPA expects to propose GHG regulations for electric power plants by July 26, 2011 and refineries by December 15, 2011. Final regulations are expected in spring and fall of 2012, respectively. The EPA has made no mention of a cap and trade program at this time.
Perhaps to keep its GHG programs in sync, EPA may defer carbon dioxide and methane reporting by utilities and heavy industry until March 31, 2014.
However, EPA has paved the way to federal permitting of GHG emissions for industries that operate in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, Texas, and Wyoming.
EPA's federal Clean Air Act permits are stop-gap measures until the states themselves can address GHGs. The state of Texas and energy companies had appealed to the courts to block EPA's regulation of GHGs, but to no avail.
Image (c) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency