EPA Issues Proposed Rule Finding that Greenhouse Gases Endanger the Public Health and Welfare

In another step toward regulating greenhouse gases and climate change, on April 17, 2009, EPA publicly released its proposed rule that would find that (i) greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endanger the public health and welfare and (ii) emissions from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines are contributing to the mix of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The Administrator of EPA is making this finding with respect to a collective class of six greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride), four of which relate to motor vehicles and vehicle engines (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons). Other greenhouse gases not named in this rulemaking may be considered separately by EPA (i.e., the regulation of certain aircraft emissions). Unless superseded by congressional action, EPA’s finding potentially could lead to a wave of new regulations and stricter emission standards for emitters.

EPA is issuing this proposed rule pursuant to section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act and in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007). EPA expects to issue proposed emissions standards for these greenhouse gases in the next several months. Once this proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, the public will have sixty (60) days in which to comment. Additionally, EPA is holding two public hearings: on May 18, 2009, in Arlington, Virginia and on May 21, 2009, in Seattle, Washington. Please contact SGR’s Sustainability Practice Group if you are interested in filing public comments on this proposed rule or on EPA’s recent proposed rule for mandatory greenhouse gas reporting

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