EPA extends deadline for polluters’ emission report

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted March 1 at 2:17 p.m.

Businesses that emit greenhouse gases will have more time to report their emissions after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency extended a  deadline Tuesday.

The EPA announced that it would extend the deadline, originally March 31, saying it would take more time to test the online system to collect data. The agency said it expected reporting to begin in late summer but did not set a new deadline.

The announcement was a nod to business groups who had said the deadline was too early and came as the agency weathered attacks from House Republicans and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson met with Senate Democrats at the Capitol.

“Taking a little extra time to get this program right makes more sense than rushing to meet an artificial and inflexible deadline,” Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, said in a statement.

The Obama administration is moving forward with limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, manufacturers and other sources despite intense opposition from Republicans and industry groups. The reporting requirements delayed Tuesday would require to large emitters and fuel suppliers to submit emissions data as part of the program.

House Republicans want to bar the agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, but have chosen to move the bill slowly while gathering evidence at a series of hearings on the issue, including another on Tuesday with testimony from coal- and auto-industry representatives who oppose the rules.

Republicans could also attach a provision to a spending resolution that would bar EPA from funding the program.

The administration is also building its case. The EPA released a study Tuesday that it said underscored the economic benefits of other Clean Air Act regulations. Meanwhile, the administration is watching to see whether the EPA will have support among moderate and conservative Democrats in the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority.

In an interview Tuesday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said he hoped the administration would re-evaluate the idea of letting the EPA regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. He said he saw an important distinction between allowing the EPA to combat air-pollution problems specific to certain regions or cities — such as mercury and smog — and greenhouse gases, which “affect the whole planet.”

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