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Brown Announces Multi-State Settlement with Environmental Protection Agency Setting Power Plant and Oil Refinery Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits

Thursday, December 23, 2010
Contact: (415) 703-5837

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced today that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled two multi-state lawsuits by agreeing to set greenhouse gas emissions limits for power plants and oil refineries.

Today’s historic settlements mark the first time the EPA has agreed to greenhouse gas emissions limits for some of the nation’s biggest polluters. California took a key role in the litigation.

“Power plants and oil refineries are among the top three emitters of carbon dioxide in the country,” Brown said. “While California has been aggressive in regulating such emissions, until recently, the federal government has not. This is a tremendous achievement that will help the state reach its greenhouse gas emission goals under the state’s climate law, AB 32.”

The two lawsuits settled today include New York v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 06-1322), which was brought by 12 states and environmental groups in 2006 to compel the EPA to issue performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants, and American Petroleum Institute v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 08-1277), which was brought by 13 states and environmental groups in 2008 to require the EPA to issue standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing petroleum refineries.

These cases were part of an integrated legal strategy pursued by the California Attorney General’s office and other states that resulted in the Supreme Court’s historic 2007 decision that greenhouse gases are pollutants subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Both settlements would require the EPA to propose and adopt regulations for control of greenhouse gases. The agency will have to build an extensive and solid technical foundation for the proposed regulations. Under the power plant settlement, the EPA must propose standards for new sources and emission guidelines for existing sources by July 26, 2011 and enact the new guidelines by May 26, 2012. Under the petroleum refineries settlement, the EPA must propose standards for new sources and emission guidelines for existing sources by December 10, 2011 and enact the new guidelines by November 10, 2012.

September 15 of this year was the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the 1970 Clean Air Act. The standards that will be set by today’s settlements are among the most effective methods available for control of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries.

States will use the national emissions guidelines to help them set their own standards and implementation provisions. Under AB 32, California has set the toughest emissions reduction goals in the country.

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