The EPA has been trying to enforce harsher permitting processes to keep large stationary polluters from spewing greenhouse gasses (GHG) into the atmosphere, however its efforts have been met with lots of resistance. Last week, in response to recent pushbacks, the EPA stepped back from their hard-line stance and said that they’ll maintain current permitting requirements for the time being — requiring only polluters that produce more than 100,000 tons of greenhouse gasses annually to apply for permits. This proposal comes in the midst of a years-long battle that has pitted Congress, state governments, and stationary polluters against the EPA’s attempt to start limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions allowed to be spewed by certain buildings and factories. The EPA maintains that the decision to limit smaller polluters will come in the future, but this move is seen by many environmentalists as a cop-out to industries that insist they shouldn’t be regulated by the government.
Currently, new facilities or existing facilities that are going through renovations are required to obtain permits from the EPA if their emissions will be over 100,000 tons per year, and they are required to use the latest emissions reducing technology while building. The EPA notes in their fact sheet about their proposal that they think that states have not had enough time to prepare for a rush of applications from new polluters with under 100,000 tons of emissions per year. Though the EPA seems to be pushing off the decision to implement permitting for large polluters with less than 100,000 tons of emissions per year, they maintain that they will get there eventually.
The EPA’s proposed emissions regulations have already spurred several court cases that claim the regulations are an illegal breach of the agency’s reach. Officials at the EPA say that they are required to limit greenhouse gas emissions under their responsibilities to the clean air act, and thus will move forward with their decision. In an election year where many Republicans are fighting against the EPA for allegedly overstepping their boundaries, this latest move seems to refute arguments that the EPA is arbitrarily attempting to regulate industry. Many Republicans maintain that the EPA’s regulations will cost industry money and result in layoffs. Regardless of any decision, large polluters are now required to report their emissions to the EPA and those reports are available publicly through the EPA’s online tracking tool.
Lead image by Martini DK on Flickr
Second image by Pink Moose on Flickr