UCS reacts to EPA’s GHG emissions guidance

By Union of Concerned Scientists | November 11, 2010

The U.S. EPA issued broad recommendations to reduce global warming emissions from large power plants, oil refineries, cement plants and other industrial facilities. State and local regulators will use the recommendations on a case-by-case basis when they review individual permit applications. The document, called a guidance, encourages energy efficiency and certain types of biomass to reduce emissions. Investing in greater energy efficiency would lower fuel costs for these facilities, and reduce their heat-trapping emissions.

Below is a statement by Rachel Cleetus, climate economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The EPA has taken a critical first step in helping to reduce U.S. global warming emissions and protecting public health and welfare. These common-sense recommendations are fair, practical, affordable and technologically feasible. They would help cut emissions from some of our largest sources of global warming pollution.

“The good news is we can begin this work right away. Forty-nine states are prepared to comply with these recommendations on Jan. 1 because the technology is readily available. Two key EPA recommendations involve energy efficiency and biomass. Investing in efficiency is a no-brainer and will cut energy costs. And carefully managed, sustainable, low-carbon biomass can provide a portion of the new renewable energy we need to reduce global warming emissions.

“Industry critics say the EPA has overstepped its authority. The Supreme Court wouldn’t agree. In 2007, the court ruled that global warming emissions are pollutants under the Clean Air Act. In response to the ruling, the EPA reviewed the scientific research and issued a finding that global warming emissions do indeed endanger public health and welfare. The bottom line is the agency is legally required to regulate the sources of these emissions. 

“While these recommendations are a good starting point, we need deeper emissions reductions to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Congress also needs to enact sensible clean energy policies that will reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels and create incentives for innovation and deploying clean technologies.”

Note: On September 28, 2010, UCS released a letter signed by more than 1,200 scientists and economists supporting the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to take action to protect public health and address global warming.