CLEAN AIR ACT Whiff of the unthinkable at EPA: CO2 standards for states


There’s renewed hope among climate advocates for an ambitious federal rule to limit greenhouse gases using the same type of mechanism that penalizes states for exceeding air pollution thresholds.

The Clean Air Act sets national air quality standards to lower pollutants that cause smog, acid rain and other health dangers. It’s never been used for greenhouse gases, but environmental groups now hope EPA might finally use it after ignoring the option for 11 years.

The Center for Biological Diversity and initially petitioned EPA in December 2009 to use the landmark environmental law to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards, or NAAQS, for greenhouse gas emissions.

Doing so could potentially open the door for a more ambitious and all-encompassing climate program than EPA achieved under former President Obama. It would require states to hold their climate-warming emissions to a specific level.

“In our view, the NAAQS program is the strongest and most far-reaching Clean Air Act tool for this work,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, deputy director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity.

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E&E News, 17 March 2021