Happy Holiday Season! As CATF advocates look forward to the coming year, we are hard pressed to think of better near term opportunities for climate pollution control than those presented by three EPA regulatory processes – in each case, the Agency has until now put down only one foot. We strongly urge the Administration to jump in with both feet in 2013, to finalizing carbon dioxide performance standards for new power plants that burn fossil fuels, and issuing proposals to both regulate this pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants, and also to regulate methane from oil and gas operations.
EPA took excellent first steps down these paths in 2011 and 2012. The new source rules proposal can and should be finalized early in 2013. But EPA needs to put aside recent statements that existing sources rules are not being contemplated and begin to work on this issue. Existing power plants are upwards of 40 percent of the U.S. carbon dioxide emissions profile, and the time is now to start bringing that number down. The recent release by NRDC of their issue paper on controlling climate pollution from existing power plants was a welcome prod to the Agency to begin its work. The time is now to start slowing carbon dioxide emissions rates.
The New Year also must bring a commitment by the Administration to start getting a direct and enforceable handle on methane emissions from domestic oil and gas production activity. Again, in 2011 and 2012, the Agency did some great work, updating performance standards for conventional and toxic air pollution from that industry, and expanding the scope of coverage for those new rules. But much more needs to be done – and can be done — to control the climate pollution emitted by this growing industrial sector. Getting a handle on methane emissions from new and existing sources in this industry can have significant near term positive effects, because methane has strong climate effects near term. The time is now to start our work.