The EPA rather reminds me of that commercial with the bunny. Let’s start with the good news, as filtered through Ace of Spades:
The law is/was as follows: There are great restrictions on major sources of pollution, per law. But there are “minor sources” noted in the law as well, for which there are only the most minimal standards. Essentially this sort of pollution is left up to the states, except that they must comply with the minimal, sketchy requirements set by federal law.
In addition, the EPA has eighteen months to approve, or disapprove, a state’s updated plan as far as handling minor sources of pollution. States update their plans from time to time.
In the case just decided, the EPA missed that eighteen month deadline to approve or disapprove by three months.
Did I say three months? I meant three years. It decided to disapprove a plan Texas submitted four and half years ago.
Anyway, the Fifth Circuit said “No, you can’t not follow the law and just expect everybody to cave when you tell them to.” (paraphrase) Bottom line? Even the EPA has to follow the rules–and not simply impose them on everyone else. Or, in even simpler terms, the EPA does not have limitless power.
Moving on to the not-so-good news:
The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants as early as Tuesday, according to several people briefed on the proposal. The move could end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.
The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.
Does this remind you of setting mpg for vehicles without regard to the costs? It certainly does for me.
“This standard effectively bans new coal plants,” said Joseph Stanko, who heads government relations at the law firm Hunton and Williams and represents several utility companies. “So I don’t see how that is an ‘all of the above’ energy policy.”
The rule provides an exception for coal plants that are already permitted and beginning construction within a year. There are about 20 coal plants now pursuing permits; two of them are federally subsidized and would meet the new standard with advanced pollution controls.
Oh, isn’t that sweet? We have some exceptions to mollify the constituents of the people who are currently elected.
An administration official who asked not to be identified because the rule hasn’t been announced wrote in an e-mail Monday night: “This standard provides a clear and certain path forward for industry and the important domestic energy sources they rely on” for electricity generation.
Nothing like a clear and certain path toward destruction of an industry, is there. I’m sure we’ll sleep better at night for knowing of certain death.
“After Congress refused to pass carbon caps, the administration insisted there were other ways to skin the cat, and this is another way — by setting a standard deliberately calculated to drive affordable coal out of the electricity market,” Popovich said.
The EPA rule, called the New Source Performance Standard, will be subject to public comment for at least a month before being finalized, but its backers said they were confident that the White House will usher it into law before Obama’s term ends.
So, there we have it. On the one hand, the EPA must back down from exercising authority which is beyond its brief. On the other hand, the agency is planning to support the imperial presidency by attempting via fiat to destroy an entire industry, one which is still responsible for %40 of the power generation in this country.
Our work is cut out for us, no?