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Peterson wants to block EPA from greenhouse gas regs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shouldn't regulate greenhouse gas emissions, says U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.

Peterson, DFL-7th District, joined two other representatives last week in introducing legislation to prevent EPA from regulating the climate changing-gas under the Clean Air Act, a move that Peterson says would also harm the renewable fuels industry.

"I have no confidence that the EPA can regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act without doing serious damage to our economy," Peterson said in a statement. "Americans know we're way too dependent on foreign oil and fossil fuels in this country -- and I've worked hard to develop practical solutions to that problem -- but Congress should be making these types of decisions, not unelected bureaucrats at the EPA."

Peterson, chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, joined House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., in authoring the bill.

The EPA announced in December that it would consider greenhouses gases a danger to public health, as defined by the Clean Air Act. In this circumstance, if Congress does not act the EPA will begin to regulate tailpipe emissions this April, Peterson said. Soon after that energy analysts expect the EPA to announce regulations for power plant emissions too.

"The Clean Air Act was not meant for this," he said. "It was meant to clean up the air, to get lead out of the air. It was not meant to fight global warming."

The Peterson-Skelton-Emerson bill would make clear that the EPA cannot regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. The bill would also amend current law to stop the EPA from punishing American farmers for deforestation taking place in foreign countries, and it would broaden the definition of renewable biomass in order to strengthen the nation's own domestic renewable fuels industry.

"This is important legislation and I'll be working hard to get it passed because if Congress doesn't do something soon, the EPA is going to impose these regulations on its own," Peterson said. "I'm willing to consider other ideas but the bottom line is we need to do something now before the EPA does."

Peterson, in a separate statement, said he had mixed reviews on President Obama's announcement last week on renewable fuel standards.

"Typical of most decisions made in Washington, there is some good and some bad in the Renewable Fuel Standard final rule announced," he said. "I am pleased that ethanol and biodiesel will qualify as advanced biofuels under the RFS. However, I am concerned about some provisions in the final rule that fail to use science-based standards,"

EPA has finalized a rule implementing the long-term renewable fuels mandate of 36 billion gallons by 2022 established by Congress, according to the White House. The Renewable Fuels Standard requires biofuels production to grow from last year's 11.1 billion gallons to 36 billion gallons in 2022, with 21 billion gallons to come from advanced biofuels. 

Increasing renewable fuels will reduce dependence on oil by more than 328 million barrels a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than 138 million metric tons a year when fully phased in by 2022, the White House said.  For the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions -- compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace -- in order to be counted toward compliance with volume standards

"To think that we can credibly measure the impact of international indirect land use is completely unrealistic, and I will continue to push for legislation that prevents unreliable methods and unfair standards from burdening the biofuels industry," Peterson said.