EPA delays climate rules for biomass industry
In another sign that the Environmental Protection Agency is moderating its climate policy, it announced Wednesday it would exempt the biomass industry from limits on greenhouse gas emissions for three years.
More than two dozen lawmakers had urged EPA to hold off on applying new rules aimed at curbing greenhouse gases from large emitters to facilities that burn wood and farm waste.
"We are working to find a way forward that is scientifically sound and manageable for both producers and consumers of biomass energy. In the coming years we will develop a commonsense approach that protects our environment and encourages the use of clean energy," EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement. "Renewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change."
The move prompted praise from both some lawmakers and renewable energy proponents, along with criticism from several environmentalists.
The Renewable Fuels Association said that subjecting the biomass industry to greenhouse gas limits would "have been unnecessarily costly and burdensome for our industry," while Rep. Greg Walden, (R-Ore.) issued a statement saying, "The EPA was precariously close to enforcing new job-killing regulations, and with the urging of a bipartisan congressional effort, made the right decision in reversing course."
Some groups, like the Clean Air Task Force, tried to seek middle ground by praising the agency for conducting a more detailed scientific review of the matter.
"The science today, however, tells us that all biomass does not provide immediate greenhouse gas mitigation, and in fact some may have greater climate impacts than fossil fuels," said Ann Weeks, the group's senior counsel. "A precautionary approach to biomass in greenhouse gas permitting therefore is the only approach that makes sense, legally and technically, pending the outcome of the scientific review."
But Clean Air Watch's Frank O'Donnell said the decision to delay regulation "is another concession by EPA to its critics in Congress. Still unknown: will this reduce congressional attacks on EPA, or merely be blood in the water?"
| January 12, 2011; 5:07 PM ET
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