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Begich Presses EPA for Explanation of Endangerment Finding, Next Steps

Eight senators outline concerns in letter to Administrator Jackson

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller have led a group of six other industrial state Democrats in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson, expressing serious economic and energy security concerns about the potential regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act.

The senators write that ill-timed or imprudent regulation of greenhouse gases may squander critical opportunities for the nation, impeding the investment necessary to create jobs and position the nation to develop and produce its own clean energy.

"I'm concerned about the possible negative effects on Alaska businesses as well as on the U.S. economy as a whole, as a result of potential EPA regulation of green house gas pollutants," Begich said. "I've talked with Administrator Jackson about my concerns and we all want to better understand how the process would unfold for regulations to be written and implemented."

"We need a clear understanding of how you view your agency's responsibilities and the processes by which you intend to carry them out in order to represent workers, industries, taxpayers, and economic interests of our states," says the letter signed by Begich, Rockefeller and Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Carl Levin of Michigan, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and Max Baucus of Montana.

The EPA has proposed to regulate six different GHG pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The agency's power to do so comes from the "endangerment finding" which resulted from a Supreme Court order. In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA ordered that the EPA must scientifically determine whether greenhouse gases (GHGs) from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which endangers public health.

Begich and Sen. Jay Rockefeller have shared concerns of the potential impacts on their respective states. They have led the effort among like-minded senators to understand the situation better, thus writing to Administrator Jackson for clarification on several questions.

"We know that businesses need some degree of certainty to operate. And the answers we get back from the EPA will help us and help the business community understand how regulations could affect them," Begich added.

As President Obama has called on Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to enhance the nation's energy and climate security, lawmakers signing the letter to Jackson state concern that blunt EPA regulation of emissions will likely not result in the best treatment for Alaska and other states with resource and manufacturing as major components of their economies.

"We strongly believe this is ultimately Congress' responsibility, and if done properly, will create jobs, spur new clean energy industries, and greatly advance the goal of U.S. energy independence. If done improperly, these opportunities could be lost," the letter concludes.

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