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Oil Industry Blasts Obama EPA for Upcoming Climate, Ozone Regulations

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s national trade organization, criticized the Obama administration today — and the Environmental Protection Agency in particular — for its efforts to impose new limits on greenhouse gas emissions and ozone pollution. The group also targeted the EPA’s recent decision to approve a waiver allowing gasoline to be mixed with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) in newer vehicles.

The administration is expected to issue new greenhouse gas standards for power plants early next year, exercising its regulatory authority now that efforts in the Senate to pass a climate bill have failed. It also plans to tighten standards for ozone pollutants, which have been linked to asthma.

On a conference call with reporters today, API staffers said the new rules will impose huge costs on the business community and the oil and natural gas industry. For example, API argues that it will be costly to comply with the new ozone rules. According to a chart provided to TWI by the trade group, as many as 2,990 of the total 3,099 counties in the contiguous United States won’t meet the strictest ozone standards being considered by the administration. The numbers are based on ozone monitoring and “interpolated” estimates of ozone for those areas where ozone readings are not available.

Howard Feldman, API’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs, said the upcoming ozone rule is unrealistic and costly. Even Yellowstone National Park would be in violation of the new ozone rule, he said.

On EPA’s upcoming effort to put new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, Khary Cauthen, API’s director of federal relations, said that the Clean Air Act is not meant to regulate carbon emissions. API said the best way to reduce emissions is through legislation that incentivizes clean energy technology.

Lastly, on EPA’s decision to grant the E15 waiver, API’s Prentiss Searles said that the agency should wait for more research to determine the affect of increased ethanol blends on engines. “We think here that EPA is responding to politics right now,” Searles said.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said that she made her decision on the waiver after reviewing testing by the Department of Energy on the affect of higher ethanol blends on engines and on ethanol’s greenhouse gas emissions.

An EPA spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment.

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