The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released guidelines instructing states how to issue permits for industrial facilities that are major sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when new federal regulations take effect on January 2, 2011. The agency reportedly crafted the guidelines to give states substantial flexibility in deciding how best to limit GHG emissions, according to this article in The Wall Street Journal.

In the absence of congressional action on climate and energy legislation - which is likely to continue under a divided Congress when the Republicans take control of the U.S. House next year - the EPA has pressed ahead with its plans to bring GHG emissions under its regulatory authority. Business groups and politicians from major industrial states have been critical of the EPA's plans. And based on the reaction to the EPA's new guidelines, that criticism is also likely to continue.

Other news accounts of the guidelines are available here, here and here. The full guidance document is available here (pdf required).