(Bloomberg News) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it won't place restrictions on smaller polluters in a rule that limits industrial and automotive emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.
After consulting with states, the agency will not include smaller sources in the permitting program "at this time," according to a statement today. Regulations require that only the biggest emitters, such as power plants and oil refiners, obtain state carbon permits before building or upgrading facilities. State officials will determine pollution controls case by case.
"The final rule maintains a focus on the nation's largest emitters that account for nearly 70 percent of the total greenhouse-gas pollution from stationary sources, while shielding smaller emitters from permitting requirements," the agency said.
Companies such as Massey Energy Co., business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and states led by Texas and Virginia filed more than 60 lawsuits to stop the agency. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that the EPA properly concluded that greenhouse gases are pollutants that endanger human health, and opponents don't have a legal right to challenge rules determining when states and industries must comply with regulations curtailing such emissions.
The court considered challenges to the EPA's rule that limits the businesses that are covered by carbon regulation and phases in controls. The agency plans to introduce industrial polluters covered by the rules through 2016.
The EPA in court filings said the so-called tailoring rule is acceptable under the Clean Air Act and necessary to keep states from being overrun with permit requests.
In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had authority to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane under the Clean Air Act if the agency declared them a public danger. The EPA issued an endangerment finding in December 2009, clearing the way for regulation of emissions from power plants, factories and other sources linked to global climate change.