Tailoring Rule Update: Just the Mess Everyone Expected

Last April, I noted that the one certainty associated with EPA regulation of greenhouse gases under existing Clean Air Act authority was that there would be unintended consequences. If anyone doubted that this would be so, they might want to read some of the comments submitted to EPA in connection with EPA’s proposed Tailoring Rule, which would exempt facilities emitting less than 25,000 tons per year of CO2e from the PSD provisions of the Clean Air Act after CO2e becomes a regulated pollutant under the CAA.

Greenwire has a helpful collection of some of the more notable comments. What I found most interesting is that the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, or NACAA, has told EPA that the transition to the new rule will not be as simple as EPA had thought – tough to disagree with that one – and that states will need more time to adapt their own regulations to the new regime. NACAA is thus proposing that EPA determine that CO2e is a “regulated pollutant,” not when the mobile source rule is promulgated (expected in March 2010), but rather when those regulations take effect in 2011 or as late as January 2012. However, David Bookbinder of the Sierra Club, which has been generally supportive of EPA’s approach to the Tailoring Rule, took the position to Greenwire that EPA does not have the discretion to allow states more time.

Meanwhile, the Center For Biological Diversity, which has pretty much staked out the extreme left in this debate, is still saying that EPA is proposing to take too much time to regulate smaller CO2e emitters. If anyone thought that EPA could propose a Tailoring Rule that would not be subject to litigation, the likelihood seems to be growing smaller daily.

I still think that, if a climate bill doesn’t pass and EPA regulates GHG under existing CAA authority, it will not be long after the program goes into effect that there will be an audible sound as every stakeholder in the nation slaps its actual or metaphorical forehead and says “Did we really do that?!”


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