September 15, 2011 / 4:09 AM / 8 years ago

EPA says needs more time for greenhouse gas proposal

* Greenhouse gas delay come on heels of ozone delay

* EPA official: greenhouse delay not driven by White House (Adds EPA delay not driven by White House)

Timothy Gardner and Peter Henderson

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will delay yet again plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions, its second delay of a major anti-pollution initiative in as many weeks.

The head of the EPA said the agency needs more time beyond the Sept. 30 deadline to forge a plan to limit emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants.

“Greenhouse gases for power plants is first on the docket,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said on the sidelines of an event in San Francisco late on Wednesday. “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.”

President Barack Obama is under intense pressure from business and Republicans to cut environmental regulation that critics say has been hurting the economy.

Last week the administration backtracked on plans to crack down on smog pollution, sparking outrage among green groups and supporters who said the president was reneging on some of his high-profile campaign promises.

“Delaying action puts our nation unacceptably at risk from the ravages of air pollution and climate change,” Joe Mendelson, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation said on Thursday.

“With record summer heat, fires raging in Texas and unprecedented floods in the Northeast, the costly impacts of global warming have never been clearer.”

The EPA previously delayed greenhouse emissions proposal in June, saying it needed more time after talking with businesses on how to implement it [ID:nN13140609].

Any rule on carbon dioxide could affect companies that burn a lot of coal to generate power such as Southern Co (SO.N), Duke Energy (DUK.N) and American Electric Power (AEP.N).

NOT DRIVEN BY WHITE HOUSE

Unlike the halt in the ozone rule, the delay in the greenhouse gas proposal was not a directive from the White House, a senior EPA official said on Thursday.

“It’s a complex rule so we needed more time,” the official said. “But there’s in no way any White House interference with it.”

The White House has pledged that the United States will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent by 2020, under 2005 levels.

The EPA is also working on the Mercury Air and Toxics Standards, the first national standards for mercury and acid gases from power plants.

“We are still intending to finalize that ruling in November,” Jackson said.

It is not clear whether the EPA will delay a proposal on greenhouse gas limits from petroleum refineries which is expected later this year, the senior EPA official said.

A separate set of of standards for boiler emissions, called Maximum Achievable Control Technology, have been stayed and the agency plans to announce next steps in October, an agency spokeswoman said. (Reporting by Peter Henderson and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Jackie Frank) (for more environmental news see our Environment blog at blogs.reuters.com/environment)

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