EPA looks to build on 2015 wins this year

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Monday that the Obama administration is preparing to roll out and implement new climate rules this year after pushing an aggressive agenda in 2015. 

In a blog post on the EPA website, administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy: Volkswagen reaches .7B settlement over emissions Volkswagen reaches .7B settlement for emissions cheating Dozens of senators push EPA for higher ethanol mandate MORE said the agency will look in 2016 to help implement the goals of the landmark international climate agreement reached in Paris last month.

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The agency will finalize rules this year to cut carbon pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, she wrote, as well as a rule to limit methane leaks from oil and gas operations. The methane rule — which targets a pollutant with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide — is seen as a major step President Obama can take to address climate change in his final year in office. 

The EPA will also work with other countries to reduce the use of high-polluting refrigerant chemicals, a push the agency threw its weight behind in November.

The agency, she said, will also provide air quality and greenhouse gas monitoring assistance to other countries, as well as work with major companies to encourage financing for climate change mitigation efforts under the Paris climate deal.

“Americans know climate action is critical — they’re seeing its impacts with their own eyes,” McCarthy wrote. “Climate change is a moral issue, a health issue, and a jobs issue — and that’s why the strong majority of Americans want the federal government to do something about it, and support the strong outcome in Paris.”

2015 was a busy year for the EPA, which finalized rules limiting carbon pollution from power plants and ozone particles in the atmosphere and establishing federal oversight of small waterways.

Many of those efforts were opposed by Republicans and industry groups, promising that the Obama administration will spend at least some of the year defending those rules in the courts. But McCarthy wrote Monday that she is “confident” the power plant rules, the key plank of Obama’s climate agenda, will stand. 

“We’re confident the Clean Power Plan will stand the test of time — the Supreme Court has ruled three times that EPA has not only the authority but the obligation to limit harmful carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act,” she wrote.