EPA Delays Greenhouse Gas Regulations
by Matthew Madia, 3/28/2008
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have put the freeze on the agency's budding efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. As Reg•Watch recently reported, EPA staff had drafted preliminary documents describing the dangers associated with greenhouse gas emissions. This so-called endangerment finding would set in motion a series of regulatory actions. Staff also drafted a regulatory proposal that called for limits on vehicle emissions. In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) wrote, "According to EPA staff, the proposal to regulate CO2 emissions from motor vehicles was 'about 300 pages;' and had 'extensive analysis about ... the costs and benefits.' " According to Waxman, Johnson was "personally involved in the decision making." He signed off on the document finding greenhouse gas emissions endanger public welfare and endorsed his staff's proposal for a reduction in vehicle emissions. Unfortunately, before releasing said information to the public, EPA had to send its draft documents to OMB. According to EPA staff, all work on the proposed regulations stopped. Yesterday, Johnson announced his intent to publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which will do nothing more than gather comments on the issue of greenhouse gas regulation. Critics are calling the move a stall tactic. Indeed, it appears as though the White House pressured EPA to abandon its draft regulation, despite the diligent efforts of EPA staff. Instead, the Advanced Notice will provide all interested parties an opportunity to rehash arguments which are already well-documented and which EPA fully understands. But there is no proof of OMB interference, leaving Johnson holding the bag. Johnson continues to martyr himself in the name of the White House's anti-regulatory doctrine. According to The Los Angeles Times, an EPA spokesman said Johnson made the decision to abandon the draft regulations of his own accord. The announcement of the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking appears to cater to the demands of some in the anti-regulatory community. "Johnson's action came after Edwin Meese III and fellow attorneys at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, spent months sending detailed legal analyses and memos to 'everyone we could think of' at the White House and in Congress, said Michael Franc, the foundation's vice president of government relations," according to the LA Times.