Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Update: EPA proposes new loophole for coal-burning power companies; Schwarzenegger intends to sue EPA over car CO2 inaction

A couple of quick updates, both spinning out of recent Supreme Court decisions:

As you may have seen from the seemingly innocuous “news brief” put out by the US EPA, the Bush administration has done it again – proposing to cut a new break for coal-burning power companies.

This is the key phrase from EPA’s fact sheet http://www.epa.gov/nsr/fs20070424.html :

In other words, under the new option, if a physical or operational change would not increase an EGU’s hourly emission, major NSR would not apply.

To put this in English, despite a unanimous Supreme Court ruling, the Bush administration is proposing a major loophole that would permit many coal-burning power plants to avoid new source review – and pollution controls.

It is appalling that the EPA still appears to be under the thumb of big coal-burning power companies that seek to avoid pollution controls. And equally appalling that this has been distributed as a “news brief,” as if it had little or no consequence.

This is an open invitation for a lawsuit if EPA makes this rule change final.

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Arnold intends to sue: Word out today that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is sending EPA a letter noting California intends to sue EPA to force a decision on California’s greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles. This is an attempt to hold EPA’s feet to the fire. And it’s about time.

As you may know, yesterday EPA Administrator Steve Johnson noted that he was opening a public comment period on California’s request (which needs EPA approval) to proceed with its greenhouse gas standards. But Johnson was very evasive when questioned about when he would make a decision on the matter.

California requested EPA’s approval in December 2005, but the Bush administration has been stalling. Johnson’s programmed behavior yesterday (he was obviously reading from a White House-prepared script) suggests further delay despite the clear need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and despite the recent Supreme Court ruling which essentially gave California a green light to proceed.

Eleven other states have adopted the California standards (Maryland just yesterday) and many of them are prepared to send in letters of support.

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