Submitted by New Energy News Blog

Many say Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Johnson’s announcement his agency will finally face its responsibility to establish greenhouse gas (GhG) emission regulations rings hollow. The process his announcement letter initiates is unlikely to be completed in the remaining time the Bush administration that appointed him will hold the White House. The Bush term ends in January 2009.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), chairman, Senate Environment Committee: “Instead of action, we get more foot-dragging…”

Senator Boxer’s committee has approved its own climate change legislation and debate on it is expected to come to the Senate floor in June.

David Hawkins, climate change expert, Natural Resources Defense Council: “The name of the game here is to run out the clock, basically…All of this stuff will come in in a big pile and it will be on the next administration’s desk.”

Another thing: By announcing his EPA will issue regulations not just on vehicles but on the full spectrum of emissions sources, Johnson makes the matter much more complicated because it brings U.S. utilities into the controversy. Regulations to mitigate global climate change could cost big utilities like American Electric Power and Southern Company billions of dollars.

John Kinsman, senior director, utility advocate Edison Electric Institute: “It’s appropriate that the EPA fully understands the consequences of using the Clean Air Act tool to address greenhouse gases…”

What Kinsman means is that he can see how much longer it will take to enact regulations that confront the complexities of both vehicle and stationary sources. And how much easier such complex regulations will be to hang up in the courts.

Senator Boxer’s legislation, unlike the EPA rules, could potentially be binding on the utilities – but the utilities have allies in the Senate who can be expected to use the power of the filibuster to thwart emissions legislation.

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