Just a day after the release of Kerry-Lieberman’s draft legislation–the American Power Act—the EPA has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet by unveiling new rules to regulate major greenhouse gas emitters. Under the new rules, new sources emitting in excess of 100,000 tons per year of greenhouse gases and any emitter increasing emissions by 75,000 tons will have to purchase permits. The final rule applies to far fewer entities than original indications, which would have set the limit for new sources at 25,000 tons per year.

What does this new rule mean for the American Power Act? This could light a fire under major emitters to get behind the climate and energy bill. A detailed and reasonable market-based plan is far more favorable to them than the potentially expensive and cumbersome EPA regulations they’ll face should the bill fail. From Sightline’s perspective, a well-run cap-and-trade system is a better solution than command and control regulations. For more, read Kevin Drum’s piece in Mother Jones.

(Brief aside: As Eric de Place noted in our recent blog post on the details of the Kerry-Lieberman bill, the Act would strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Although there’s some reason to be concerned about this concession—it removes a last-ditch option from the table—it is something we at Sightline are willing to trade away for a comprehensive plan to put a cap on carbon emissions.)

Two other Northwest items of note from the week:

    1. As the Senate considers raising the liability limit for oil spill cleanup costs, Alaska’s Senator Murkowski is stalling the effort–arguing that higher liability limits would hurt small business. You know, all those mom-and-pop shops drilling 5,000 feet below sea level miles off the coast.
    2. Pacific Coast senators are banding together in a plan to ban new offshore drilling off our coasts. Washington state senator Cantwell has been particularly outspoken throughout the gulf’s massive oil spill—putting the pressure on BP to pay all liability claims from the disaster.