The Environmental Protection Agency is creating higher barriers for regulating the emissions that contribute to climate change, setting new rules that effectively block the federal government from imposing new restrictions on several heavy industries. The agency, which first introduced a proposal to create the higher bar in August, packaged these new standards in a rule making it issued Tuesday.
The rule, to be published in the Federal Register Wednesday, sets new criteria for what is considered a significant contributor of greenhouse-gas emissions.
In the rule the agency says that determination is required by law and finds that oil and gas producers, refiners, steelmakers and other heavy industries don’t meet the criteria, prohibiting the EPA from regulating their emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Tuesday’s action may not have staying power, however. President-elect Joe Biden’s team has announced plans to freeze and potentially undo any new regulations, such as this one, that are still pending when it takes power next week.
The Biden transition team didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Biden, however, has criticized the Trump administration for rolling back environmental regulations aimed at arresting climate change.
President Trump has pushed for ways to check expanding environmental regulations, saying they hurt U.S. businesses like manufacturers and energy producers.
“The first natural breakpoint is between (power plants) and all other source categories. (Power plants) stand out as by far the largest stationary source of the U.S. GHG emissions,” the agency says in the new rule. “These criteria help ensure that the EPA’s decision-making is well-reasoned and consistent.”
The conclusion is absurd, said the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group that advocates for greenhouse-gas emissions limits. It said it expects the Biden administration to undo the rule, and that it may violate rules on public notice.