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GHG Emissions Management Update: EPA Petitioned to Implement Cap-and-Trade

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

EPA update and GHG EmissionsAttention all manufacturers related to producing any type of vehicle, including marine crafts, cars, trucks, and aircraft, including fuel:

The NYU Law School's Institute for Policy Integrity has filed a legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stating that the EPA is required to create a cap-and-trade system for all greenhouse gases (GHGs) from cars, trucks, boats, and airplanes.

"Section 211 of the Clean Air Act provides ample authority for EPA to institute a regulatory cap-and-trade system on the sale and manufacture of fuels used in vehicles. Not only is a cap-and-trade system a permissible regulatory option, but it is also a superior one. It is the most efficient and cost-justified policy solution to reduce GHG emissions from transportation sources, which is one of the largest (or the largest) contributor to U.S. GHG emissions." 

(From the legal petition document)

According to the Institute, the EPA has it within their legal authority under section 211 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to develop and enforce this cap-and-trade regulation, and the petition asks the EPA to do so - using the justification that the GHG cap systems would be of the greatest benefit to both the economy and the environment.

The petition also argues that the EPA "cannot articulate a justifiable reason not to regulate", obligating EPA to follow through with the cap-and-trade system or else provide a sound reason why it cannot. 

That previous point is an important part of the Institute's case, as a very similar petition was also filed in 2009, and the EPA was unable to identify a legal reason why it should not enforce a GHG cap-and-trade system from vehicles. By failing to meet its legal obligation to repsond in a timely manner to this type of petition and supply a valid justification, the EPA has  left itself vulnerable to a lawsuit from the Institute.

The Petition's End Goals

The legal petition ends with five clear outcomes that the Institute expects based on its policy analysis:

"(1) Make a finding under Section 211 that greenhouse gas emissions from fuels used in 
motor and nonroad vehicles and engines cause or contribute to air pollution that 
may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public welfare; 

(2) Propose a cap‐and‐trade system with an auction mechanism to control greenhouse 
gas emissions from fuels used in mobile sources under the authority of Section 211;  

(3) Make a finding under Section 231 that greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft 
engines cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to 
endanger public welfare; 

(4) Propose a joint rulemaking with the Federal Aviation Administration to incorporate 
fuels used in aircraft into the cap‐and‐trade system under Section 211; and  

(5) Finalize regulations on both proposals within 90 days of the issuance of such
proposed standards." 

What This Means for Business

At the moment, the EPA has not responded to the petition, although that is expected to change in the near future.

According to the Institute's findings, the EPA will eventually be required to list greenhouse gases as a "regulated pollutant" under the New Source Review program. And that will mean that major sources of GHGs will be required to install Best Available Control Technologies (BACT) for their GHG emisssion sources.  

It also means that new facilities being built may end up being considered a "major source" due to their GHG emissions, even if the emit a low quantity of other Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs).

Read the Institute for Policy Integrity's legal petition online here.

Read the Institute for Policy Integrity's legal background fact sheet online here.

Other Articles About Greenhouse Gas Management from the ERA Archive:

free ghg guide CTA

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ERA Environmental management solutions Alex Chamberlain

About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog

 

Topics: Environmental Compliance & Data Management, Emissions Management