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EPA chief says Congress should pass greenhouse gases legislation

July 11, 2008 |  1:51 pm

Responding to a U.S. Supreme Court order, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson said today that the Clean Air Act was "the wrong tool for addressing greenhouse gases" because it would be too costly to the American public, and said that Congress should move forward with passing legislation to tackle the issue instead.

The high court had ordered the EPA more than a year ago to determine if greenhouse gases were a danger to the public. If so, the justices said, under the Clean Air Act, the agency was required to develop regulations to reduce the risk.

Instead, Johnson signed what he said was an unprecedented 1,000-page document this morning that included letters from numerous White House environmental and economic agencies detailing how such regulations could harm major sectors of the economy.

"One point is clear," Johnson said. "The potential regulation of greenhouse gases under any portion of the Clean Air Act could result in an unprecedented expansion of EPA authority that would have a profound effect on virtually every sector of the economy and touch every household in the land."

He said he would accept comments on the proposed EPA regulations in response to the court order, but stressed repeatedly that it was the wrong approach because of the costs.

The document also includes a sharply revised version of a May draft by EPA staff members in which they concluded as much as $2 trillion in savings to consumers at the gas pump and elsewhere could be achieved if greenhouse gas regulations were implemented. That number was slashed to $830 billion, and the price of gas was calculated at $2 a gallon for the next 30 years. EPA press secretary Jonathan Schradar said he did not know why the numbers had been changed, but said extensive review of the earlier draft had been performed by agency staff members.

Today's announcement once again effectively eliminates any likelihood of the Bush administration regulating greenhouse gases.

-- Janet Wilson

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