Jan 25 2008

Senator Feinstein Urges EPA to Promptly Complete Work on Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

- Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA required EPA to study public health threat of greenhouse gas emissions -

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on the EPA to promptly complete work on its Supreme Court-mandated review of the need to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Senator Feinstein chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Related Agencies, and will be holding a hearing on the EPA budget in the coming weeks. 
 
In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Senator Feinstein urged the EPA to complete the review of whether greenhouse gas emissions pose a threat to public health, as required by remand in the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. The ruling also required the EPA to develop strategies to limit emissions, as necessary.

  Following is the text of the letter sent today by Senator Feinstein to the EPA:
 
January 25, 2008

Stephen L. Johnson
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue; NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Mr. Johnson:

In its landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision, the United States Supreme Court instructed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine the threat greenhouse gases pose to public health and welfare and, to the degree appropriate, develop regulations limiting these emissions.  I am concerned that EPA does not appear to have a timeline in place to respond to the Supreme Court’s remand.  I request a detailed update of the funds and staff time dedicated to this effort to date and a timeline demonstrating that EPA plans to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court remand expeditiously.

In 2007, the Agency appropriately dedicated thousands of hours of professional staff time to considering whether greenhouse gas pollution endangers public health and welfare.  In December, EPA forwarded a finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare to the White House Office of Management and Budget.  EPA staff also made tremendous progress developing the regulations that such an endangerment finding would require.  However, all work on these regulations has, reportedly, been halted. 

While you set a goal for the agency of issuing these standards in 2007, yesterday in testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee you asserted that no timeline exists for completing this process.  It concerns me that the Environmental Protection Agency, after spending a great deal of resources appropriated by the Congress on this effort, has no timeline for responding to the Supreme Court’s remand.  I therefore request the following information:

  • Please provide a detailed update of the funds and staff time dedicated to the effort to evaluate whether greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare to date.  Please also provide a detailed update of the funds and staff time used to develop yet-to-be publicized federal regulations that would limit the emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Please provide a detailed update of the funds and staff time you intend to utilize during Fiscal Year 2008 to complete work on the endangerment finding and federal regulations that would limit the emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Please provide a detailed timeline demonstrating that EPA plans to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court remand expeditiously.  Specifically, please include deadlines by which:
    • EPA will issue or deny the endangerment finding now at the Office of Management and Budget for review;
    • EPA will publish drafts of any regulations necessary as a result of EPA’s decision on the endangerment finding; and
    • EPA will finalize regulations necessary as a result of your decision on the endangerment finding.

I hope you will develop a comprehensive plan for responding to the Supreme Court as expeditiously as possible, and I trust that you will be prepared to discuss this matter at the upcoming budget hearing in the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.  I look forward to your prompt response.


      Sincerely,

 

      Dianne Feinstein
      Chairman Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies 

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