Facing wide criticism over their recent finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public welfare, top Environmental Protection Agency officials said earlier this week that any regulations of such gases would be phased in gradually and would not impose expensive new rules on most American businesses.
Lisa Jackson, administrator for the EPA wrote in a letter to eight coal state Democrats who have sought a moratorium on regulation that only the biggest sources of greenhouse gases would be subjected to limits before 2013. Smaller ones would not be regulated before 2016 she said.
“I share your goals of ensuring economic recovery at this critical time and of addressing greenhouse gas emissions in sensible ways that are consistent with the call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation,” Jackson wrote.
The eight Democratic senators said hugely significant decisions about energy, the economy and the environment should be made by elected representatives, not federal bureaucrats.
The senators, who earlier questioned broad cap-and-trade legislation pushed by the Obama administration, join a number of Republican lawmakers, industry groups and officials from Texas, Alabama and Virginia in challenging the proposed EPA regulations of industrial sources.
Senate Republicans are going a step further, seeking to prevent the agency from taking any action to limit greenhouse gases which are tied to global warming.
Environmental advocates said the EPA was justified in declaring carbon dioxide and gases that contribute to global warming to be dangerous pollutants under the Clean Air Act and was moving cautiously to regulate them.