EPA’s Ever-Expanding Web of Red Tape

February 21, 2014

Next week, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments relating to the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations, and specifically whether EPA’s regulation of GHG emissions from new cars triggered GHG permitting requirements for stationary sources. At the time the Supreme Court issued its Massachusetts v. EPA decision in 2007, the court did not address regulation of GHG emissions from stationary sources, or the potentially unlimited set of new regulations EPA could seek to impose across the U.S. economy under the Clean Air Act.

Since 2009, and in the wake of Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA has proposed or finalized over 100 new GHG-related regulations, exceeding 3,000 pages in the Federal Register. These rules range from transportation sector regulations to new preconstruction and operating permit requirements, to reporting rules for thousands of facilities, to the administration’s proposed standards for new power plants. A list of EPA’s GHG regulations since 2009 is available here.

And the list of regulations continues to grow. At present, EPA is developing additional new regulations for existing power plants and has committed to issuing rules for new and existing refineries, and has petitions pending relating to aircraft, ships, trains, farms, non-road vehicles, and other types of emission sources. For information regarding EPA’s pending regulations, see here.

“EPA is engaging in an endless pursuit of new regulations, including proposed regulations that would make it impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant in America,” said Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). “EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations reflect an unprecedented expansion of regulatory control over the U.S. economy, and are estimated to cumulatively impose hundreds of billions of dollars in new compliance costs, which only threatens job growth and affordable energy prices. The agency has been expansively construing its legal authorities under the Clean Air Act, and this ever-growing web of regulations has the potential to be the most complex, far-reaching and expensive in the agency’s history.”