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US to reconsider end to power plant CO2 checks: official

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 17, 2009
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Tuesday it would "reconsider" an 11th-hour memo issued by the administration of former president George W. Bush, which said power plants could be built without checks on their carbon dioxide emissions.

Issued in December by then EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, the memo said that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA did not have to take carbon dioxide emissions into consideration when issuing building permits to potential polluters, such as coal-fired power plants.

The Sierra Club environmentalist group petitioned the EPA last month to reconsider the memo, arguing it had failed to heed enough to the potential impact on communities around the US if applied.

"The EPA grants the petition for reconsideration in order to allow for public comment on the issues raised in the memorandum," EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter sent Tuesday to Sierra Club lawyer David Bookbinder, a copy of which was read by AFP.

"I am granting this petition because we must learn more about how this memo affects all relevant stakeholders impacted by its provisions," Jackson said in a statement, which added that the EPA will conduct a "vigorous review" of the Johnson memorandum.

The move was the third in as many weeks that stalled controversial measures pushed through in the dying days of the Bush administration, which green advocates said would have a damaging impact on the environment.

Last week, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar moved away from energy policies favoring big oil as he blocked what he called a "midnight action," passed on the Bush administration's last business day on January 16 that tried to rapidly push through the sale of offshore gas and oil exploration leases.

A week earlier, Salazar blocked the sale of exploration contracts to gas companies on wilderness land in Utah.

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Carbon emitters hold talks in Tokyo
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 12, 2009
The world's major carbon emitters were in "full negotiation mode" Thursday as they met in Tokyo with the clock ticking to draft a new UN treaty on fighting global warming.

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