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April 26 2012

16:48

E.P.A. Official Spoke of 'Crucifying' Polluters

After the release of a video by a Republican senator, an E.P.A. administrator scrambles to apologize for "offensive" remarks.

March 27 2012

17:16
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January 10 2012

21:24

Obama Drops by the E.P.A.

"I do not buy the notion that we have to make a choice between having clean air and clean water and growing this economy in a robust way," the president tells agency employees.

December 02 2011

16:52

New Pollution Rules for Boilers and Incinerators

The E.P.A. announces a slight watering down of proposed rules on toxic air pollution that were significantly scaled back earlier this year.

September 14 2011

13:28

Database Tracks a Congressional Onslaught

Representative Henry Waxman's staff creates a tool for tracking legislative efforts to scale back environmental regulation.

September 09 2011

11:56

Impasse Persists on Drugs in Drinking Water

Federal agencies have failed to determine exactly what health risks are posed by pharmaceuticals in water supplies, a G.A.O. report says.

April 05 2011

20:27

White House Promises Veto of Anti-E.P.A. Bill

The White House says the bill would roll back the Clean Air Act, worsen the threat of global warming, undercut efforts to make cars and trucks more fuel-efficient and contradict public health experts and scientists.

March 31 2011

18:46

March 15 2011

18:28

March 03 2011

22:55
22:27

January 12 2011

17:35

E.P.A. Puts Off Regulating Biomass for Now

The E.P.A.'s announcement seems to be another signal that it is following what officials have described as a moderate approach to regulation.

January 06 2011

22:19
21:29

E.P.A. Faces First Volley From the House

Wasting no time, House Republicans introduce measures to block the agency's proposed regulation of greenhouse gases and new rules limiting toxic air emissions from cement factories.

December 02 2010

22:05

September 17 2010

19:28

Religion Has Scant Effect on Environmental Views, Poll Suggests

While some conservative Christians have been among the most vocal skeptics of climate change, Pew found strong support for regulations to protect the environment across almost every segment of society.

January 15 2010

19:25

The Weekly Mulch from the Media Consortium: EPA, Clean Air Act Facing Opposition


By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
(reposted with permission)

Climate change legislation is off the table for now, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still working to regulate greenhouse gasses. The organization is up against strong opposition from Republicans and some Democrats. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is heading the charge, with the assistance of Bush-era EPA officials, now lobbyists with clients in the energy industry.

The EPA and the Clean Air Act

In April 2009, the EPA found that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gasses pose a hazard to public health. This finding obligated the EPA to regulate these pollutants under the Clean Air Act, a responsibility the Bush administration fought to avoid. The power the agency now has to limit carbon emissions extends far beyond its usual scope, and the EPA's decisions will have a lasting impact on environmental regulation in this country. As the agency moves to act, everyone from Sen. Murkowski to the state of California is protesting the changes. Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones reports:

The California Energy Commission last month sent a letter to the EPA asking it to slow down on implementation of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions….The CEC argues that phasing them in too fast could hurt efforts in the state to expand use of low-carbon energy.”

Opponents in Congress are taking action to shut down the EPA’s attempts to curb greenhouse gasses, Sheppard writes. Both Sen. Murkowski and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) have filed bills that would delay or stop the EPA’s regulatory process.

Attempting to "gut the Clean Air Act"

Grist’s Miles Grant is also keeping a close watch on opponents of the regulation.

At first it seemed like simply one bad idea from Sen. Lisa Murkowski,” he writes. “But now we know the real story—a tangled web of public officials, polluter lobbyists, and efforts to gut the Clean Air Act.”

It emerged this week that Murkowski had help in drafting her bill from EPA administrators from the Bush administration, as first reported by the Washington Post. These former officials now work in Washington as lobbyists and represent clients like Duke Energy and the Alliance of Food Associations on climate change matters.

Every day it seems we’re learning more,” says Miles. “More about the revolving door between the Bush administration and polluter lobbyists; more about their influence with senators and their staffers; and more about who’s really pulling the strings on efforts to block climate action—Big Oil’s MVP, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).”

Even the American Farm Bureau Federation…

Another opponent, as Care2 notes, is the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the country’s largest farm group. The organization approved a special resolution during its four-day convention on Sunday. The resolution supports legislation like Murkowski’s or Pomeroy’s that would “suspend the EPA’s authority to regulator greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.”

During a speech, AFBF president Bob Stallman said that American farmers and ranchers “must aggressively respond to extremists” and “misguided, activist-driven regulation.”

“The days of their elitist power grabs are over,” he said.

More opportunities to improve climate policy

The EPA's new power is not the only opportunity that the Obama administration has to improve U.S. climate policy. David Roberts, also reporting for Grist, writes about $2.3 billion in new tax credits for clean energy manufacturing companies, announced last Friday.

There were 183 projects selected out of some 500 applications; one-third were from small businesses; around 30% are expected to be completed this year. The winners are spread across 43 states,” Roberts reports.

Roberts calls it “better than usual industrial policy.” The credits are meant to give a boost to the new green energy economy.

But Roberts warns, “It’s also absurd that clean energy industries still depend on capricious, short-term extensions of tax credits. … Obama has called on Congress to cough up $5 billion a year for these credits, but how enduring will yearly appropriations be the next time Congress changes hands?”

Iowa and the biodiesel tax credit

The answer likely depends on how much support these projects get from the representatives of states that will benefit from the tax credits. In Iowa, for instance, the state's three Democratic Representatives have asked the House leadership to prioritized a 2010 renewal of the biodiesel tax credit, as Lynda Waddington reports for the Iowa Independent.

If members of the U.S. Senate do not act on last year’s program extension, however, it might be a moot point,” Waddington writes.

The renewal has gotten stalled in the Senate, where both Iowa Senators are blaming the opposite party for delays.

From policy to people

When politicians jockey over regulations and renewals, climate change work in Washington can seem very abstract. But people like John Henrikson, a forester who’s committed to farming 150 acres of trees in sustainable ways, help ground lofty policy ideas down in reality.

Henrikson’s approach embodies a new way of thinking about our relationship with forests. For years he has been processing his own trees into trim and molding, sold through a broad network of local businesses,” reports Ian Hanna for Yes! Magazine. “Five years ago he got his forest certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards, a global system for eco-labeling sustainably managed forests and the products derived from them. And, most recently, he’s developed a project to sell rights to the carbon sequestered on his property.”

Without strong policy coming out Washington, it’s harder for entrepreneurs like Henrikson to make green business a reality. If legislators like Sen. Murkowski and groups like the AFBF don't block them, the EPA's new rules are going to begin coming out in March. There's a major action to combat global warming that the U.S. can take before then, though—for example, we could officially commit to our promise to reduce emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. The deadline for registering climate pledges under the new Copenhagen Accord is the end of this month.

————
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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