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For Immediate Release, March 29, 2010

Contact: Bill Snape, Senior Counsel, (202) 536-9351,

Obama Administration Adopts Bush-era Roadblock to Reducing Greenhouse Pollution
Reinterpretation of "Johnson Memo" Further Delays Common-sense,
Cost-effective Solutions to Global Warming

WASHINGTON— Today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson issued a decision that will delay regulation of greenhouse gas pollution from stationary sources such as power plants, oil refineries, and cement plants until at least January 2011, possibly even later.

In response, Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kierán Suckling issued the following statement:

“We cannot afford to further delay reducing greenhouse pollution from smokestacks. Today’s decision from the EPA could allow coal-fired power plants in the permitting process to be built without consideration of their greenhouse pollution.

“There are about 50 coal-fired power plants currently in the approval process. If constructed, they would collectively produce about 250 million additional metric tons of CO2 eq per year, more than the total annual emissions of most countries. Delaying Clean Air Act review for coal-fired power plants and other polluters leaves desperately needed and achievable emissions reductions sitting on the table.

“The sooner we tackle climate change, the easier and cheaper solutions will be. Today’s decision is the wrong policy and wrong on the law. No coal-fired power plant, oil refinery, or cement plant should be approved by the federal government unless and until the EPA sets up a greenhouse-gas permitting system.”


In 2007, the Supreme Court (in Massachusetts vs. EPA) overturned the Bush administration’s refusal to issue greenhouse gas reduction rules for the nation’s vehicles. Following that decision, the Bush administration – in what is today called the “Johnson memo” – argued that the smokestack permitting program for greenhouse gas emissions should not begin until the EPA regulates greenhouse gases under some other Clean Air Act program. The EPA will meet those conditions later this week when it releases the final greenhouse gas rule for vehicles.

Under the Johnson memo, the publication of the vehicle-emission rule requires the EPA to immediately begin regulating smokestack emissions through a permitting process. Today, however, Lisa Jackson announced that smokestack permitting will not begin until at least January 2011, when car manufacturers must first comply with the vehicle rules. She also warned that smokestack permitting could be delayed until even later than January 2011.

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