Climate-Bill Stimulus: EPA Sends Greenhouse Gas Finding to White House

Last Updated Nov 9, 2009 7:09 PM EST

While climate-change legislation continues its political roller coaster ride through Congress, another effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is underfoot.

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent its final finding on whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are a danger to human health and welfare, Reuters reported. The EPA sent its final endangerment finding to the White House Office of Management and Budget, where it will be reviewed within the next 90 days.

The EPA did not release its final finding. If it is similar to its initial findings last April -- and is approved by the Office of Management and Budget -- the EPA would likely issue rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the authority of the Clean Air Act.

This means the EPA -- not Congress -- would be writing the rules for emitters of greenhouse gases, a development most oil and gas industry folk would like to avoid.

The EPA also has sent over its finding on whether cars and trucks cause or contribute to that pollution, Reuters reported, after interviewing EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

Those findings are potentially disruptive to automakers because, if approved, the government would be able to regulate tailpipe emissions by increasing fuel economy standards.

The unintended consequence in all of this will be heavy lobbying -- even by some opponents of climate-change legislation -- to push Congress to take some action.

It's already happening.

Utility executives have ramped up their push for climate-change legislation over fear that the EPA will set its own rules, the WSJ reported Monday. Utilities such as Duke Energy and Exelon Corp. are concerned EPA regulation would be more costly and less effective than legislation that caps greenhouse gas emissions.

That's not to say, some of the stalwart opposition to climate-change legislation will suddenly change their tune. But it will likely mean they will press for more concessions within the bill itself or at least seek to preempt the EPA's Clean Air Act authority over greenhouse gas emissions.

We'll see how Congress -- now under great pressure from its constituents -- responds.