Saturday, January 01, 2011

Baird spins U.S. EPA rules wrongly

John Baird on the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations in the U.S. that are coming into force on January 2nd:
Entrant en vigueur le 2 janvier, la nouvelle réglementation de l'Agence de protection environnementale américaine prévoit que les États, au moment de délivrer les permis de construction, devront imposer aux entreprises l'utilisation de technologies plus vertes.

«Leur but est d'avoir la meilleure technologie disponible dans les nouvelles installations et on est vraiment d'accord avec ça», a souligné à la mi-décembre le ministre de l'Environnement, John Baird.

«Les nouvelles mesures aux États-Unis sont des lignes directrices, pas une réglementation, a-t-il toutefois affirmé, tentant de minimiser l'enjeu. C'est volontaire pour les États.»
Baird says on the one hand that Canada agrees with the goal of the new regulations, requiring new GHG reducing technologies to be used in new utilities, manufacturing plants, etc. But on the other hand, he characterizes the new U.S. measures as "guidelines." They're voluntary for the states, he says. That's a very interesting interpretation by our federal Environment Minister. The environmentalists cited in the report refute Baird. Additionally:
A dozen states have filed suit to halt the new greenhouse gas rules, with one, Texas, flatly refusing to comply with any new orders from Washington.
Now why would those states be litigating if, as our Environment Minister says, the rules are voluntary? It's because they're not.
With Mr. Obama’s hand forced by the mandates of the Clean Air Act and a 2007 Supreme Court decision, his E.P.A. will impose the first regulation of major stationary sources of greenhouse gases starting Jan. 2.
The immediate effect on utilities, refiners and major manufacturers will be small, with the new rules applying only to those planning to build large new facilities or make major modifications to existing plants. The environmental agency estimates that only 400 such facilities will be affected in each of the first few years of the program. Over the next decade, however, the agency plans to regulate virtually all sources of greenhouse gases, imposing efficiency and emissions requirements on nearly every industry and every region.
Baird et al. may be hoping that Republican congressional opposition is able to strip the EPA of funding, perhaps, or that a delay of the EPA's rules can be achieved. But that doesn't make them voluntary guidelines, right now, as Baird puts it.

The larger point is that these new regulations signify movement by the U.S. on GHG reductions. So if we're supposed to be harmonizing our environmental policies with the U.S., then the glare returns to the Harper government. See Baird, above.