President George W. Bush ordered a new EPA review of the climate science, prompting a series of technical staff assessments in support of regulations for greenhouse gas emissions. Documents made public on the federal government's regulatory Web site show that EPA staff summarized the potential benefits [PDF] from curbing emissions, as well as the scientific data on motor vehicles [PDF] and stationary emission sources [PDF] such as power plants.
But the Bush White House ultimately stopped the EPA rulemaking process on climate change and instead punted all of the key decisions to the Obama administration.
According to a different leaked EPA document [PDF] published yesterday in Greenwire, EPA staff are fast-tracking their work responding to the Supreme Court decision in preparation for a mid-April decision from Administrator Lisa Jackson which concludes that greenhouse gases threaten both welfare and public health.
Should Jackson make an affirmative finding as expected, it would prompt a series of EPA rulemakings on climate change dealing with everything from cars to power plants and large manufacturing plants. Jackson also can expect a wave of industry-driven litigation, as well as a push from the Democrat-led Congress to pass legislation pre-empting the EPA rules and instead setting its own mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases.
Jeff Holmstead, the former head of EPA's air office under President George W. Bush, said he found nothing to dispute about the latest EPA document's assessment of the climate science. "There is nothing really surprising here," he said. "It looks like EPA has done a good job of listing all the possible impacts of global climate change."
But Holmstead, now an industry attorney at Bracewell & Giuliani, took issue with shortcomings that he said "are much more important for both legal and practical reasons."
For example, Holmstead referenced a section in the draft that estimates that about 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the U.S. transportation sector.
"But it doesn't even try to say whether regulating these emissions – or even eliminating them entirely – would make any difference when it comes to reducing the possible impacts of climate change," Holmstead said. "It will be much more interesting to see what the agency says when it actually develops a proposed rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions – and therefore has to estimate the effects of that proposal."
No comment from EPA
Asked for a comment on the leaked document, EPA spokesman Allyn Brooks-LaSure replied, "Our general policy is to not comment on draft or deliberative documents, primarily because those documents are typically incomplete and contain partial thinking and ideas about matters potentially under consideration."
Brooks-LaSure added, "Our fundamental mission is to protect the American people where they work, live, play and learn – and we are considering all options to realize that mission. When we have something official and final to say on this, or any other issue, you will get the first press release."
Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500