Green Business Bureau Blog


EPA Finding Has Global Repercussions


There is not much harmony at the Copenhagen international climate summit.  As reported by Brian Williams of NBC news, the ideal scenario would be two weeks of discussion followed by a unified message at the end of the summit.  It is safe to say that will not be happening.

In fact, media outlets have concentrated on the extreme pollution caused by this meeting.  With thousands of jet plane trips and thousands of limousine driven vehicles, the 2009 summit may be best remembered as creating more emissions than any other conference.  At a time when definition and commitment are both necessary, international squabbles boil down to who will foot the bill and for what.

The EPA Steps Up

On the national scene, Congress has its own internal disagreements about climate control and pollution control.  It should be no surprise that conservatives are arming their defense arsenal.  Most use the state of the economy and even use the high unemployment rate as reasons for abstaining from improved environmental legislation.

The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with addressing the country’s serious emission problem.  Supported by the Obama Administration, and buoyed by the Clean Air Act, the EPA is forced to proceed.  On December 7th, the agency released a compelling report indicating that carbon dioxide emissions and emissions from five other gases were dangerous pollutants.

The EPA followed the report with an announcement, dreaded by Congress, affirming the agency’s commitment to move forward with protectionism.  While emission controls will eventually apply to all industries and all sizes of business, the immediate focus will be on large manufacturing sites, factories, energy providers and factories.  Electricity generation, transportation and industry are the three most severe contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions.

Within the boundaries of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the authority to limit emissions to a maximum of 250 tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2012.  Most businesses will have to purchase new technologies to comply.  The necessary changes will cost billions of dollars but will need to be funded by the operations that intend to continue forward.  Severe punitive damages will be imposed on businesses that are cited and fail to comply.

Congress and Industry Respond

With the current turmoil in Washington and with major legislation before Congress, environmental legislation has been put on hold.  The EPA’s report and announcement have put Congress in the unfortunate position of having to take action.

Some Congressional members vow a fight.  Others cite the curious e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of Anglia in then U.K.

Meanwhile, the oil industry and steel industry suggest that enforcement may cause refineries and plants to close thus increasing imports.  The legislation passed b the House is stymies in the Senate.

The EPA is tired of waiting.  Whatever happens in Copenhagen, the agency seems in line to move forward.  Congress may take measure to derail the EPA, but that should lead to further public outcry.


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