Senator Barbara Boxer sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding withdraw of what she calls a "blatantly illegal memo" issued by EPA Administrator Steve Johnson in response to the Deseret Power decision. The memo says that CO2 (and other greenhouse gases-GHGs) are not yet regulated pollutants under the Clean Air Act. As a result, federal air permits will not require installation of Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to reduce GHG emissions. Here letter states:
Administrator Johnson issued the document without legal authority under the Clean Air Act, and in spite of the clear opinion of the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board in In re: Deseret Power Electric Cooperative, PSD Appeal No. 07-03 (EAB November 13, 2008). Johnson’s guidance also flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA (2007).
The Johnson document presents as arguments against including carbon dioxide emissions in a Clean Air Act permit the same kind of transparent excuses for inaction on global warming pollution that both the Supreme Court and the Environmental Appeals Board flatly rejected in their respective opinions. In addition, the EPA’s issuance of the Johnson document completely disregards the public’s right to participate in EPA decision making.
Senator Boxer goes too far in calling the memo "blatantly illegal." In fact, the Environmental Appeals Board recommended that the EPA issue an interpretative memo to decide whether CO2 is considered a regulated pollutant.
What I take away from the fact the letter was sent is how different things will begin to look come January 20th. President-Elect Obama has already nominated members of the Cabinet that will have a 180 degree different view point of tackling Climate Change than the Bush Administration. Most people know action will be taken, but I still don’t think people fully grasp the magnitude of the change to move toward a low carbon economy.
My other observation is that many on the Internet who have been commenting on the events surrounding the Desert Power case don’t fully grasp the implications of regulating CO2 under the current structure of the Clean Air Act. (See Joe Romm’s Post on his blog Climate Progress). I have discussed this implications in prior posts. There is a right way to do things and rushing to regulate CO2 without the proper regulatory framework would be a disaster.