[from an e-mail to DC power company lobbyists from the Edison Electric Institute]:
Subject: NSR Vote on Friday
We are expecting that energy bill II, H.R. 3893, "Gasoline for America's Security Act of 2005," will be considered by the full House on Friday. During that consideration we expect that there will be an attempt to strike the NSR reform language in Section 106 either through a motion to recommit or a substitute amendment. We are in the process of encouraging House Members to support the NSR language and trying assist in conducting a whip count. Please contact House Members in support of the NSR language. Attached are a set of points for your use in that effort. Please contact me with any information on where individual Members are on the NSR language (especially Republicans from California and the NE, and coal state Democrats).
Thanks for your help.
[here is the attachment referenced above]
Electric Utilities Support
Reform of New Source Review Program
The New Source Review (NSR) program under the Clean Air Act requires electric utilities to undergo pre-construction review for environmental controls when new generating facilities are built, or if existing power plants are modified by making “non-routine” physical or operational changes that result in a significant increase in emissions. In the late 1990s, after nearly 30 years of implementing the NSR program, EPA began reinterpreting the definition of a “modification” that triggers the program for existing power plants in a manner that discourages beneficial efficiency improvements and critical routine maintenance at these facilities.
Electric generating units are subject to harsh operating conditions, and constant repair and replacement of deteriorated or damaged equipment is essential to reliable operations. However, under EPA’s re-interpretation, activities intended to keep facilities operating reliably, safely and efficiently can trigger costly permitting requirements and capital expenditures, as well as inconsistent regulatory enforcement among the state agencies that implement this federal program.
Attempting to address these problems, in October 2003 EPA finalized the Equipment Replacement Provision rule defining what is “routine” in a common-sense manner that promotes greater certainty and flexibility to sources undertaking equipment replacement projects. However, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a petition for review of the rule, and with no decision expected until mid-2006 or later, implementation of the current NSR program remains an issue of great uncertainty. The House legislation would codify this rule and provide much needed certainty to allow efficiency improvements and routine maintenance at generating facilities to go forward.
THE ENVIRONMENT WOULD STILL BE PROTECTED UNDER THE HOUSE BILL:
The reforms in the House bill, H.R. 3893, would NOT change the applicability of NSR for new sources, nor for existing sources that increase their hourly rate of emissions.
Power plants will still be subject to nationwide caps on emissions and individual plants and individual operating units will not be allowed to exceed current state and local permit limits on emissions.
Emissions will be capped under existing laws and regulations. The Clean Air Interstate Rule, NOx SIP Call, New Source Performance Standards, Acid Rain Program, Regional Haze Rule, Clean Air Mercury Rule, Title V Operating Permit Program, and state and local programs all require the electric power sector to dramatically reduce emissions and be subject to the caps on emissions imposed by federal law. Failure to recognize these programs when discussing emission impacts of the NSR program is shortsighted, if not an outright distortion. For the nation as a whole, these other programs will lead to power plant sulfur dioxide emissions being capped at 3.5 million tons (compared to 1990 levels of 15.7 million tons), and emissions of nitrogen oxides will be capped at 2.2 million tons per year (compared to 6.7 million tons in 1990). These caps impose far greater controls and reductions than the outdated NSR program.
EFFICIENCY, RELIABILITY, SAFETY AND COST BENEFITS OF NSR REFORM:
Properly operated and maintained and more efficient generating units consume less fuel and produce fewer emissions per unit of electricity generated, due to less frequent upsets and malfunctions.
The reforms encourage efficiency improvement projects, which will reduce the need to site, permit, and operate more facilities.
The reforms limit complex, costly and time-consuming permit reviews for basic maintenance and installation of newer, more energy-efficient, reliable and safer technologies and equipment.
More efficient plants will yield reductions in emission rates and facilitate state goals to improve air quality, and free up state environmental agency inspectors and permit writers to handle significant existing permit backlogs.
Properly maintained generating units put less pressure on our strained transmission grid, as fewer unscheduled outages limit the need to increase flows of electricity across the network.
Industry can operate in a more efficient and cost-effective manner that is good for business and consumers. Delays in repairing or replacing worn equipment leads to more frequent and longer unscheduled outages, lower availability, and higher costs for consumers.