Budget warns Congress on EPA climate rules

It also includes $13.5 million for development and implementation of emissions standards for cars and light trucks the agency plans to finalize this year.

The auto standards – part of a joint emissions and mileage rulemaking with the Transportation Department – are not hugely controversial, but their completion will trigger a legal requirement that EPA begin taking steps toward regulating stationary sources as well.

“Funds also will support EPA’s assessment and potential development, in response to legal obligations, for other mobile sources and for assessment and potential development of New Source Performance Standards for several categories of major stationary sources through means that are flexible and manageable for business,” EPA’s budget plan states.

Climate change legislation is a question mark in Congress this year, but advocates of emissions curbs are hopeful that the prospect of EPA regulating under its current Clean Air Act powers will help prod lawmakers.

Obama administration officials have said they want Congress to approve a cap-and-trade plan but will move ahead with EPA rules if Congress does not complete a bill. The House approved climate legislation last June but Senate prospects are murky.

The EPA budget plan also includes $4 million to implement a regulation finalized last year that requires large emitters to report their greenhouse gas output to federal officials.

EPA’s overall budget would be slightly lower under the plan. The White House is seeking $10 billion for the agency, compared with $10.3 billion in current funding.