Thousands of Care2 members have submitted signatures to the Environmental Protection Agency in the last few years urging the U.S. government to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson took a critical first step in getting us there when she announced a new requirement that large power plants and industrial plans to get operating permits to cover the emissions, with an annual threshold of 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In order to get such a permit, the business would have to “demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified,” according to an EPA press release.
Jackson explains her decision in the press release:
By using the power and authority of the Clean Air Act, we can begin reducing emissions from the nation’s largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy. This is a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources — those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources. This rule allows us to do what the Clean Air Act does best – reduce emissions for better health, drive technology innovation for a better economy, and protect the environment for a better future – all without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the better part of our economy.
According to the New York Times, the new regulation could be in effect as early as 2011.
Care2′s friends at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund break down just what this means:
A 25,000 ton annual carbon dioxide threshold is comparable to the emissions from:
(1) 131 rail cars of coal consumed
(2) 58,000 barrels of oil consumed, or
(3) The emissions from the annual energy use of about 2,200 homes.
It’s a good first step toward establishing a strong protection for our climate. Look to the forthcoming Senate debate on the new Boxer-Kerry bill to strengthen these requirements.
Photo by Kenneth Hynek, used under Creative Commons license