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US moves to limit industrial greenhouse gas emissions

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 1, 2009
The US government has taken a harder line on greenhouse gas emissions produced by factories, refineries and power plants by mandating energy efficient means for expansion, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson she would use the agency's existing regulatory power to clamp down on large polluters by requiring them to use the greenest technology possible if they want a permit to build a new site or significantly modify an existing site.

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act -- the law defining the EPA's responsibilities for protecting US air quality -- "we can begin reducing emissions from the nation's largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy," said Jackson.

Jackson, speaking late Wednesday in California, described it as "a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources -- those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions."

Jackson's announcement puts pressure on members of Congress resistant to President Barack Obama's "cap and trade" proposals aimed at rewarding the most energy efficient industries and punishing the big polluters.

The Obama administration and its supporters want the US Senate to approve a measure limiting greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the upcoming United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

Jackson said the proposed rules target large emitters, while small businesses "such as farms and restaurants, and many other types of small facilities, would not be included in these requirements."

Refineries, coal power plants and large factories emitting at least 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year would be affected by the proposal, Jackson said.

The rules would focus on six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride, Jackson said.

The United States is the world's second largest carbon dioxide emitter after China. These two countries together account for 40 percent of global emissions.

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