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EPA to Delay Climate-Change Rules

By Amy Harder (National Journal) - September 15, 2011

The Obama administration will delay issuing its politically explosive climate-change rules for the second time.

The Environmental Protection Agency had said it would issue the rules, which would require power plants to slash their greenhouse-gas emissions, by Sept. 30.

But EPA spokeswoman Betsaida Alcantara confirmed to National Journal Thursday that EPA would miss its Sept. 30 deadline. She said the agency would “soon” issue a new schedule, but did not have details.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson first mentioned the delay at a San Francisco event on Wednesday, Reuters reported. “Although we are not going to make the date at the end of the month, we are still working and will be shortly announcing a new schedule,” Jackson said.

A delay had seemed increasingly likely, as National Journal reported last week, because EPA has not yet submitted the rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget. Rules are typically in OMB’s hands for months before EPA can announce them.

In response to litigation brought by about a dozen states and three environmental groups, EPA had originally planned to issue the standards on July 26. But on June 13, the agency announced it had reached an agreement with the parties in the lawsuit to extend that deadline until Sept. 30. In that agreement, EPA reiterated its commitment to finalizing the rules by May 26, 2012.

Earlier this month, amid intense business and political pressures, President Obama shelved his administration’s controversial ground-level ozone standard for at least two years. The delay infuriated his environmental base but was applauded by many business leaders and congressional Republicans.

But it is likely that EPA is delaying the climate-change rule more for practical reasons than for political ones lobbyists close to EPA tell National Journal. At issue is the agency’s inability to work through all comments and craft the proposal on time, they said.