Monday, October 5, 2009

EPA moves

EPA’s announcement that it is going to act with or without Congress to regulate large carbon emitters is good news – good because it creates an incentive for the Senate to act and good, because if the Senate does not act, at least we get some movement in addressing the regulation of carbon output. But it is important not to overstate the limitation of this sort of move. In his article on the announcement the NYT writes: "Ms. Jackson described the proposal as a common-sense rule tailored to apply to only the largest facilities — those that emit at least 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year — which are responsible for nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/science/earth/01epa.html?scp=6&sq=epa%20climate%20regulation&st=cse). But that conflates carbon regulation with greenhouse gas regulation of which non-carbon output by agriculture constitutes a significant percentage. Even looking just at carbon, I am skeptical based on data from the Department of Energy for 2007 – see http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html. Looking just at CO2, the really worrisome figure is petroleum which constitutes 2.5gt of the 6 gt total and most which (2 gt) is used in transportation. It will be harder to regulate greenhouse gas output by just attending to the largest facilities. Like it or not, regulation will have to have a much further reach.

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