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Jan 2015
21
January 21, 2015

President Obama Indicates He Will Forge Ahead on Greenhouse Gas Regulations


In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama clearly signaled that the Administration would continue its agenda of regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the Clean Air Act, despite opposition from Congress. The President stated:

“. . . Over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy to the way we use it. . . . and that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure that American leadership drives international action.”

Those efforts include the recently announced EPA agenda to address methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. On Jan. 14, the EPA outlined an agenda to curb methane and VOC emissions from the rapidly growing oil and gas industry. The EPA expects to reduce these emissions in a number of ways, including use, under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, New Source Performance Standards for methane. Moreover, the scope of the EPA’s agenda apparently includes not just emissions from producing wells, compression, and processing facilities, but also emissions occurring as a result of hydraulic fracturing operations and completion of oil and natural gas wells. The EPA’s agenda contemplates finalizing rules for the sector by 2016, the final year of the President's term.

It is also clear that the Administration has every intention of finalizing EPA rules this year, also under Section 111, which would require all new fossil fuel power plants to meet emission standards achievable only by the most efficient natural gas fired plants. The agency also plans to finalize the “Clean Power Plan” this year, which will mandate development, on a state by state basis, plans to cut GHG emissions from the utility sector beginning in 2020 by reducing utilization of existing coal-fired plants and increasing generation from natural gas, solar and wind resources.

Members of the Resources, Energy, and Environment Practice Group at Warner Norcross & Judd regularly counsel clients on federal Clean Air Act matters involving the regulation of GHGs and traditional pollutants. For more information, contact Steven Kohl (248.784.5141 or skohl@wnj.com), Scott Watson (616.752.2465 or swatson@wnj.com), David Whitfield (616.752.2745 or dwhitfield@wnj.com) or any other member of this practice group.

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