Jackson: Climate regs ‘nothing to fear’

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said Tuesday the public has no reason to fear the agency’s pending climate regulations.

“I believe there is nothing to fear from common-sense use of the Clean Air Act to begin to put this country in the direction of moving towards addressing our greenhouse-gas emissions,” Jackson said during remarks at an energy conference in Washington.

The EPA has begun phasing in greenhouse-gas standards for new and modified power plants and refineries. The regulations have come under attack from Republicans and some centrist Democrats, who argue the rules will harm the economy. The House passed a bill earlier this month to block EPA climate rules; the Senate failed to pass the legislation.

Jackson said she and President Obama would have preferred putting limits on greenhouse-gas emissions through legislation. But efforts to pass such a bill fell apart in the Senate last year several months after the House passed cap-and-trade legislation.

“So now we’re left with the Clean Air Act. It’s not the ideal tool, but it is a tool, and according to the Supreme Court it is a tool,” Jackson said, referring to a landmark 2007 Supreme Court decision that said the EPA could regulate greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Air Act if the agency found they endanger public health and welfare. EPA made such a finding in 2009.

Jackson, who spoke at the Energy Information Administration's annual conference, said she hopes Congress will eventually move forward with climate legislation. But such a bill has little chance of passing.