EPA Gives States Guidelines On Industrial Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency has come out with new rules for states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other large industrial polluters. The rules go into effect at the beginning of next year and apply only to new facilities and major expansions of existing plants.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The odds are not good for legislation on climate change to get through Congress any time soon. Still, environmental regulators are moving forward with new rules. For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued instructions for states to regulate emissions from power plants and other large industrial polluters.

NPR's Elizabeth Shogren has more.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN: Starting next year, companies would need greenhouse gas permits when building or expanding power plants, refineries, metal smelters, cement kilns or other major polluters. The EPA says at the beginning, instead of being required to install expensive cutting-edge technologies, companies will have to use the most efficient cost-effective equipment available. By using less fuel theyll produce less greenhouse gas pollution.

But lawyer Jeffrey Homestead, who represents businesses covered by the regulations, says they're so unclear that neither businesses nor regulators will know what to do.

Mr. JEFFREY HOMESTEAD (Attorney): It's going to be a mess. There basically will be a construction ban on industrial construction for a couple of years.

SHOGREN: Gina McCarthy, who heads the EPA's air pollution programs, rejects that.

Ms. GINA MCCARTHY (EPA): The Clean Air Act for 40 years has found a way to issue permits in a way that's allowed the economy to continue to grow, allowed new facilities, new companies and new jobs. We are not going to stop that with the greenhouse gas process.

SHOGREN: Some states and businesses are challenging the agency in court. Attempts by congressional opponents to stall the EPA program failed this year. But with Republicans taking control of the House and more Republicans in the Senate, the EPA's rule is a likely target of the new Congress.

Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News, Washington.

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