By John Parnell
Tea Party activists and major think tanks sympathetic to its cause are launching their “last stand” against new climate regulations in the US.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) was classified as a pollutant by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in 2009.
This has allowed it to regulate emissions from high emitting coal power plants, with 50GW either shut down or scheduled to close shortly.
But with sulphur emissions next on the EPS ‘hit list’ Tea Party think tanks FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform and the Heartland Institute are preparing a final push to scrap the EPA’s climate regulations.
The US Court of Appeals in Washington DC will hear legal challenges to EPA policies on February 28 and 29.
“From our perspective, I view this as the last stand on climate for us,” David Banks, a policy adviser to the Heartland Institute and former Senate Republican aide told US news website Politico.
The Heartland Institute considers the EPA a “rogue agency” and has long called for it to be down-sized. It submitted a petition of 16,000 signatures to Capitol Hill to that effect.
The call to arms prompted the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to launch its own campaign appealing for additional funding to protect the EPA’s climate efforts.
“If they get their way, there may be a challenge against the EPA rule that allows regulation of the greenhouse gas emissions of new power plants. This challenge comes just months before the new rule would be finalized,” Sam Parry, director of membership for EDF wrote in a statement sent to the group’s supporters.
The EPA’s regulations have been interpreted as a “War on Coal” by political opponents who claim that the mining industry is the biggest loser.
US coal production increased in 2010 and 2011 but current Energy Information Administration (EIA) data suggests this is likely to decrease in 2012.
Momentum for climate action in the US has increased since President Obama won his second term.
A proposal for a US carbon tax has been floated in addition to the strengthening of the EPA regulations and its central role in the Obama’s inauguration and State of the Union addresses.
An estimated 35,000 people took to Washington DC earlier this month to protest against the Keystone XL pipeline and to call for more climate action from the Obama administration.
The election campaign was almost entirely devoid of any mention of climate change from either candidate until Superstorm Sandy struck New York.
Romney’s jokes about his opponent promising to slow the rise of the oceans left him high and dry once large areas of New York State and New Jersey were under water.