Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Fighting back: new studies note job creation from pollution cleanup; UTILITY EXECS back EPA cleanup

few activities today with a common theme: that EPA cleanup of air pollution from big emission sources is not only good for health and the environment, but also for jobs and the economy.



As always, please let us know if we can help.



--Frank O’Donnell

Clean Air Watch

202-558-3527/202-302-2065

www.cleanairwatch.org



**

You will recall that just yesterday, the US EPA asked a federal court for a LONG delay before setting final toxic pollution standards for industrial and other boilers. The LONG delay gave rise to some perception that political pressure from Congress was a factor. (You may recall, that theme was first reported last August in The Washington Post after more than 100 members of Congress expressed concern about the standards, and “White House aides” were cited in response as seeking to undercut EPA and look for a “compromise.” http://views.washingtonpost.com/climate-change/post-carbon/2010/08/epas_boiler_proposal_sparks_hill_backlash.html )

EPA has been under fierce attack by industries, including the Council of Industrial Boiler Operators, which made dire predictions about the now-in-Limbo proposal.

Not so soon.

In a report out today, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies takes a critical look at the CIBO analysis and finds it uses “beyond worst case” assumptions and neglects the positive economic benefits associated with the cleanup.

For example, it notes that the proposed cleanup would create 40,000 new engineering and construction jobs in the near term as well as thousands of jobs to operate and maintain the new equipment!

Here is a link to the new report:

http://airweb.timberlakepublishing.com/Files/EVALUATIONOFCIBOSTUDY-FINAL-12082010.pdf

Let’s hope the EPA takes a close look at this analysis as it moves forward and does not succumb to the job-killing political pressure from cleanup opponents.

**

In a related issue of job-killing pollution, several groups in Pennsylvania (including our good friends at the Clean Air Council) today are releasing a truly fascinating study on the “hidden costs” of pollution to downwind neighbors and employers. Here is a link: http://www.cleanair.org/DownwindPollutionHiddenCostStudy.pdf

This study specifically examines EPA’s proposed “transport rule” which is designed to reduce power plant pollution that crosses state lines. This report notes that areas downwind of dirty coal-fired power plants face not only public health damage but severe economic harm from the ongoing pollution.

The report recalls that EPA focused on the positive health impacts of the proposal which “would save many billions in annual health and welfare benefits and avoid thousands of premature deaths each year.”

The report goes on the note that “even these staggering numbers substantially understate the adverse regional impacts of interstate pollution transfer as they fail to consider the resulting economic inequities and losses suffered by downwind states, in particular higher labor and health insurance costs, lost jobs, lost state and local tax revenue, and higher gasoline prices.”

I urge you to read this report yourself, but note these stats:

• As a result of uncontrolled pollution in downwind regions, between 2005 and 2012:

o Businesses will suffer over $47 billion in costs;

o Over 360,000 jobs will be lost;

o State and local governments will lose almost $9.3 billion in tax revenue;

and

o Families and businesses in polluted areas will pay $26.0 billion more for

reformulated gasoline as a result of ongoing pollution.

**

Finally, some major power companies are rallying to EPA’s defense today in a letter to the editor published in The Wall Street Journal, re-printed below.

The letter, from the bosses of PG&E, Calpine, NextERA Energy, PSEG, National Grid, Exelon, Constellation Energy and Austin Energy, takes issue not only with the Journal but with the doomsday denizens of the coal-fired power industry, who have asserted that upcoming EPA cleanup rules would threaten electric power reliability.

Note the power execs:

Our companies' experience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.

That’s right: cleaning up the air not only improves our health, but creates jobs. President Obama, are you paying attention? **

Here is the letter:

We're OK With the EPA's New Air-Quality Regulations
Your editorial "The EPA Permitorium" (Nov. 22) mischaracterizes the EPA's air-quality regulations. These are required under the Clean Air Act, which a bipartisan Congress and a Republican president amended in 1990, and many are in response to court orders requiring the EPA to fix regulations that courts ruled invalid.

The electric sector has known that these rules were coming. Many companies, including ours, have already invested in modern air-pollution control technologies and cleaner and more efficient power plants. For over a decade, companies have recognized that the industry would need to install controls to comply with the act's air toxicity requirements, and the technology exists to cost effectively control such emissions, including mercury and acid gases. The EPA is now under a court deadline to finalize that rule before the end of 2011 because of the previous delays.

To suggest that plants are retiring because of the EPA's regulations fails to recognize that lower power prices and depressed demand are the primary retirement drivers. The units retiring are generally small, old and inefficient. These retirements are long overdue.

Contrary to the claims that the EPA's agenda will have negative economic consequences, our companies' experience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.

The time to make greater use of existing modern units and to further modernize our nation's generating fleet is now. Our companies are committed to ensuring the EPA develops and implements the regulations consistent with the act's requirements.

Peter Darbee, chairman,president and CEO,PG&E Corp.; Jack Fusco, president and CEO, Calpine Corp.; Lewis Hay, chairman and CEO, NextEra Energy, Inc.; Ralph Izzo, chairman, president and CEO, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc.; Thomas King, president, National Grid USA,; John Rowe, chairman and CEO, Exelon Corp.; Mayo Shattuck, chairman, president and CEO, Constellation Energy Group; Larry Weis, general manager, Austin Energy

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

EPA seeks big delay in final toxic rule for boilers

You may have seen EPA’s release below, announcing it is seeking a very long delay – under April 2012 -- in setting final toxic pollution standards for industrial and other boilers. EPA previously predicted these standards would prevent thousands of premature deaths a year.

http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion/docs/fsboilersmajor20100429.pdf

That means it is one of the most significant air pollution rules that EPA will consider. It is a major public health protection measure.

But, as you know, the rulemaking has come under fierce industry lobbying pressure, which has prompted various outcries from Congress. We believe the industry assertions about negative economic impacts are drastically overstated. I note our friends with the state and local clean air agencies are releasing a report on this subject tomorrow. I expect they will note that the industry scare tactics are just the usual baloney.

Regarding this delay, we always want EPA to make decisions based on the best possible information. And we hope they will do so in this case.

But there is an unfortunate appearance here that political pressure from Congress is affecting the situation. That EPA is running scared.

And we are concerned that other major rules – including new national standards for ozone, or smog -- could also be delayed further.

**

CONTACT:
Enesta Jones (News Media only)

jones.enesta@epa.gov

202-564-7873
202-564-4355



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 7, 2010

EPA Seeks New Timetable for Reducing Pollution from Boilers and Incinerators

Agency committed to developing rules that are protective, cost effective and based on sound science



WASHINGTON – In a motion filed today in the federal District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking an extension in the current court-ordered schedule for issuing rules that would reduce harmful air emissions from large and small boilers and solid waste incinerators. The additional time is needed for the agency to re-propose the rules based on a full assessment of information received since the rules were proposed. The rules would cut emissions of harmful pollutants, including mercury and soot, which cause a range of health effects – from developmental disabilities in children to cancer, heart disease and premature death.



"After receiving additional data through the extensive public comment period, EPA is requesting more time to develop these important rules," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. "We want to ensure these rules are practical to implement and protect all Americans from dangerous pollutants such as mercury and soot, which affect kids' development, aggravate asthma and cause heart attacks."


In order to meet a court order requiring the EPA to issue final rules in January 2011, the agency proposed standards in April 2010. While EPA requested and received some information from industry before the proposal, the comments EPA received following the proposal shed new light on a number of key areas, including the scope and coverage of the rules and the way to categorize the various boiler-types. Industry groups and others offered this information during the public comment period after EPA proposed the rule. After reviewing the data and the more than 4,800 public comments, the agency believes it is appropriate to issue a revised proposal that reflects the new data and allows for additional public comment. This approach is essential to meeting the agency’s legal obligations under the Clean Air Act and, as a result, provides the surest path to protecting human health and the environment.



EPA has estimated that there are more than 200,000 boilers operating in industrial facilities, commercial buildings, hotels and universities located in highly populated areas and communities across the country. EPA has estimated that for every $5 spent on reducing these pollutants, the public will see $12 in health and other benefits.



EPA is under a current court order to issue final rules on January 16, 2011 and is seeking in its motion to the court to extend the schedule to finalize the rules by April 2012.



More information: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Diesel update: Senate committee takes positive bipartisan step... but what the heck is happening in California?

I am very pleased to report that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee – in a rare bipartisan voice vote – voted today to continue a program aimed at cleaning up existing dirty diesel engines.

http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Majority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=9da74aed-802a-23ad-4408-8d17fd4f594a&Region_id=&Issue_id=

This is a positive bipartisan step. The key sponsors of this legislation, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware and George Voinovich of Ohio, deserve our praise and thanks. We hope this measure will quickly be approved by the whole Senate as well as the House during the lame-duck session.

Existing diesel engines produce noxious and lethal fumes that shorten literally thousands of lives each year. (They also spew out black carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.) Cleaning these engines up should be a national priority.

And that brings me to a less positive part of this message: what the heck is happening with diesel cleanup in California?

For many years, the California Air Resources Board has rightly been thought of as the most effective environmental agency in the world. And it has produced landmark accomplishments under both Democratic and Republican governors. (Outgoing Governor Schwarzenegger has consistently been a climate champion.)

And so it is with deep sadness that I must note that the California agency is considering a major delay in its own diesel cleanup program. The board is likely to take this issue up in mid-December.

This backpedaling has been prompted by several things, most notably the economic recession. And no one would deny that some modifications to the cleanup program could be in order.

However, the Air Resources Board is going too far and relaxing requirements too much. As my friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council put it:

This regulatory relief to equipment owners goes way too far at the expense of the breathing and health-impacted public.http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dbailey/our_lungs_dont_read_proposed_c.html

The California agency would merely shift to costs from diesel equipment owners to the breathing public, which will pay more in medical expenses.

I know our friends in the health and environmental communities in California are very concerned. And, I should add, any retreat by the California government could be like a plague that spreads elsewhere.

Let us hope the agency re-thinks its strategy and moderates its planned rollback.

Monday, November 08, 2010

On Platts Energy Week

Clean Air Watch was fortunate to be invited to appear on Platts Energy Week. You can see the program here:

http://www.wusa9.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=661844722001

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The smog of war: long-time clean air foe C. Boyden Gray attacks EPA yet again!

Those of you who have followed clean-air matters for awhile may not find this surprising. But for those of you who have joined this saga relatively recently, this might be worth noting.

Long-time clean air opponent C. Boyden Gray has opened fire on EPA’s upcoming new ozone standard. Gray’s salvo came in a commentary published in the Washington Times newspaper. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/oct/19/gray-reducing-ozone-could-kill-jobs/

His commentary mirrors what is becoming pretty typical anti-EPA Republican political rhetoric, which asserts that cleaning up the air will increase unemployment. (Actually, numerous studies have found that clean-air standards lead to job creation, particularly in the pollution control and related industries.) The commentary includes a lot of other nonsense which I am happy to discuss, if you want.

I think it is fair to put Gray’s commentary in some context, especially for those of you who are less familiar with his past. I will present just a few highlights. There is much more, of course.

Gray, heir to the Reynolds tobacco fortune, has held numerous government jobs under Republican governments, including as counsel to the first President Bush and more recently as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.

But it’s his involvement in fighting against clean air controls that catches our eye.

During the Reagan presidency, Gray staffed a “regulatory relief” panel that, among other things, tried to stop the phase out of lead in gasoline. Eventually, the phase out continued after an uproar. http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=where_the_public_good_prevailed

During the first Bush Presidency, Gray and his protégé and assistant, Jeffrey Holmstead (who went on to become head of EPA’s air pollution division during the second Bush presidency and who crafted numerous industry-friendly approaches that were tossed out by the courts) interfered in EPA attempts to carry out the Clean Air Act, as they tried to “interpret” the rules in ways more favorable to industry. As Gray told the New York Times,

"What happens after the passage of legislation is often more important that what happens during enactment," said C. Boyden Gray, the White House counsel. "We are engaged now in a lot of knockdown fights over the Clean Air Act, where Congress left discretion to the agency."

During the Clinton era, when the EPA sought to set tougher national clean-air standards for smog and soot, Gray was the chief tactician of an industry coalition which sought to block the agency.

Gray was also chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy, an industry-funded anti-government rabble-rousing outfit which claimed that EPA planned to ban barbeques and Fourth of July fireworks. These were all phony assertions.

After EPA went ahead and adopted tougher standards, Gray dreamed up a legal trick aimed at subverting the standards. He argued that EPA had violated the so-called “nondelegation” doctrine – a fancy way of saying EPA had reached too far in setting the clean-air standards.

http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/trlp5&div=8&id=&page=

A federal appeals court agreed with him, but the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected his argument.

But Gray managed to set the cause for clean air back several years in the process and made a lot of money for a lot of lawyers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitman_v._American_Trucking_Associations,_Inc.

And now, EPA is moving again to update national smog standards. And, once again, C. Boyden Gray is on the attack. Keep you eye out for more of the same baloney rhetoric. Will he be on Hannity next? And please let us know if you want a reality check.

What else is Gray doing these days?

Well, he is on the board of directors of the so-called FreedomWorks, an anti-government group which is an offshoot of Gray’s earlier Citizens for a Sound Economy and helps the so-called Tea Party. http://www.freedomworks.org/about/board-of-directors/c-boyden-gray

FreedomWorks, of course, has been very active opposing both legislation and EPA rules aimed at limiting climate change emissions: http://action.freedomworks.org/

Gray also is “founding partner” of the Gray & Schmitz law firm, which is registered to lobby for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which, as you know, has been an aggressive opponent of EPA clean air requirements.

Gray has also lobbied on behalf of Constellation Energy on the House and Senate climate bills.(Funny – I thought Constellation was in favor of federal climate legislation because it thought that would boost the value of nuclear energy. I assume Gray was tasked with rounding up Republican supporters. If so, he didn’t do very well, did he?)

Gray’s firm is also registered to lobby on behalf of the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Gray is also a prominent “Federalist Society” member http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/id.36/author.asp and is scheduled to speak next month at what looks to be the equivalent of a Tea Party rally by dull gray men in dull gray suits. Sorry for the pun: http://www.fed-soc.org/events/eventID.2386/event_detail.asp

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Diesel pollution in perspective: why we haven't solved the problem

The US EPA is holding a dog-and-pony show this morning with diesel engine interests to tout the new generation of cleaner diesel trucks and buses.

http://www.dieselforum.org/news-center/press-releases/tuesday-press-conference-epa-environmental-industry-representatives-to-highlight-new-2010-generation-of-clean-diesel-power-in-trucks-buses

And, as someone who has worked on this issue for quite a number of years, I have to say the cleanup of new diesel engines has been a stunning accomplishment. Not that many years ago, “they said it couldn’t be done.”

This landmark accomplishment happened only after major battles against the oil industry, which for years resisted making cleaner diesel fuel needed to operate the new trucks and buses. It’s little surprise that no one from the oil industry is scheduled to speak at this event.

So let’s applaud the cleaner trucks coming off the assembly line. Over time, thousands of lives will be saved and everyone will breathe easier.

But let’s take a second to put this into perspective. Because diesel engines are so durable, the majority of trucks on the road continue to spew out toxic fumes. Indeed, literally millions of dirty diesel engines remain on the road. http://www.catf.us/resources/publications/?project=3

We need to do much more to clean them up.

A near term opportunity is the reauthorization of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act which provides funds for clean-up to all states. We hope the Congress will get moving on this bipartisan plan after the election fireworks.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An October Surprise! EPA to bless high-fructose gasoline... but what about clean air?

I guess this isn’t really the classic “October Surprise,” though the timing certainly appears to be political.

It is no secret at this point that the US EPA is expected this afternoon to announce it plans to allow higher levels of ethanol in gasoline used in newer cars.

The corn lobby has been pushing this idea for many months and this decision appears to be a concession to corn-state politics. As we all know, the Party in Power has been under fire in many such states for alleged environmental zealotry.

But will high-fructose gasoline really be good for clean air? And what could this mean for consumers?

The EPA apparently will note is has reviewed various test results and concluded that increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10% to 15% will not harm vehicles made since 2007. (EPA will defer a related request to permit E15 in older vehicles.)

My sources tell me there could be real concerns and possible pollution increases. As I have been informed, the US Department of Energy (not exactly an unbiased source since its mission is partly to promote “alternative” energy) conducted tests on a relatively small number of newer vehicles, and the test was basically designed in such a way as to show that more ethanol would be no problem. I am further told that, despite the test design, some of the vehicles did exhibit emission increases. As you may know, one well-known earlier study of higher ethanol blends showed more pollution and damage to catalytic converters over time.

An even greater concern with this EPA decision involves so-called “misfueling” (use of the high-fructose gasoline in other engines).

This could lead to even more air pollution. EPA is expected to accompany today’s announcement with proposed labeling requirements aimed to preventing misfueling. As I write this, the White House Office of Management and Budget web site reports that it is still reviewing the EPA labeling proposal:


AGENCY: EPA-AR
RIN: 2060-AQ17


TITLE: Regulation To Prevent the Misfueling of Vehicles and Engines With Gasoline Containing Greater Than Ten Volume Percent Ethanol and Modifications to the Reformulated and Conventional Gasoline Programs


STAGE: Proposed Rule
ECONOMICALLY SIGNIFICANT: No


RECEIVED DATE: 09/14/2010
LEGAL DEADLINE: None









**

There is real reason to be concerned that high-fructose gasoline will be used in the wrong engines – especially if the high-fructose variety ends up being somewhat cheaper at the pump because of ethanol subsidies. Some of us so recall that back in the 1970s and 80s, many people kept using cheaper leaded gasoline in cars designed for unleaded. That caused the destruction of catalytic converters and more pollution.



In a bi-partisan July 29 letter sent to EPA by the key chairmen and top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the law makers reminded EPA of this unfortunate experience:



Assuming that EPA has authority to grant a partial waiver, EPA should have a well-thought-out and well-executed plan for avoiding misfueling. Without appropriate safeguards, a partial approval could pose major problems for consumers with vehicles or engines that are not compatible with E 15. Based on the experience with the transition from leaded to unleaded gasoline, a significant amount of accidental or intentional misfueling would be likely. If such misfueling led to operability or durability problems, or increased repair costs, a significant number of consumers could be adversely affected.

http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100729/Jackson.EPA.2010.7.29.pdf

Numerous groups – including the American Lung Association, state air pollution regulators and engine makers -- have also warned about misfueling.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Around the horn: climate double crossers, friends of coal waste, Smog Watch 2010 survey, and more...

“Clean Coal,” part one: As I am sure you know, one of the biggest raging regulatory battles of the past several years involves what to do about coal waste. (You may recall the Kingston catastrophe, which has been forgotten in some places because of more recent fossil fuel catastrophes.) You may also recall that the White House Office of Management and Budget – following a seemingly endless series of pitches by coal interests, see at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira_2050_meetings/ -- squeezed the EPA to propose basically a do-nothing rule alongside the agency’s original plan of treating this stuff as hazardous waste.

The issue is out of the headlines, but the lobbying continues unabated. We have obtained a very interesting draft letter, reprinted below, signed by the coal-friendly governors of Arkansas and Alaska, who, coincidentally, happen to be the chair and vice chair of the National Governors Association Natural Resources Committee. These govs, who have circulated the letter to other committee members with an eye towards submitting this as the governors’ official position to EPA, declare that “coal combustion residuals” (a euphemism for “toxic sludge”) are very beneficial. Regulating it would cost jobs, make global warming worse (didn’t know they care about that issue!), blah-blah, blah. Well, read it for yourself below if you want.

This is another classic example of how special interests work behind the scenes to undermine federal health and safety protections. In this case, they are using governors as their tools.

**

“Clean Coal,” part two: A reader points out to us the latest double-talk from one of America’s great proponents of “clean coal: -- that would be Mike Morris, head of American Electric Power Company. It turns out that AEP has declared that EPA’s proposed deadlines for its proposed interstate “transport” rule are “unrealistic.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-01/aep-says-deadlines-for-cutting-power-plant-air-pollution-are-unrealistic-.html

The comments came only two days after Morris noted the Ohio-based company would probably comply with the proposal on time “without any hardware.” So we are supposed to believe the Morris opposes the deadlines because they would hurt his competitors? AEP stockholders, are you paying attention?

**

Double-dealers: Morris, of course, was a “player” in the failed Senate negotiations over climate. And, on that topic, the New Yorker magazine has published a fascinating article which seeks to explain why climate legislation died in the Senate. You can read the whole piece here http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/11/101011fa_fact_lizza Politico’s Morning Energy report has some good highlights today.

Much of the article reflects the perspective of some arrogant Capitol Hill staffers. (How arrogant, you ask? They somehow did not seem embarrassed to admit that they planned to double-cross Republican Senator Susan Collins once they had secured her vote for the so-called Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill.) The aides basically try to blame the White House for the debacle, singling out Chicago Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel and F-word spouting presidential adviser David Axelrod (who knew?) for particular scorn. Let’s see how long it takes for the arrogant aides to become lobbyists as the DC revolving door turns….

**
Smog Watch 2010: Our Clean Air Watch volunteers have continued their great work of assembling the only real-time national snapshot of smog in America. And here are the results this year, through October 1. We have discovered that a total of 40 states plus the District of Columbia have experienced unhealthful levels of ozone, or smog this year, compared to 37 states plus DC last year. (These totals understate the full extent of the smog problem, because we have only counted days with bad-air levels above 75 parts per billion, the standard set by the Bush EPA. That standard will in all probability be made tougher by the current EPA in the near future.) Altogether there were 3,912 times that official air pollution monitors recorded bad ozone levels, compared to 3,161 in 2009. The good news is that these are lower levels than seen in previous years, despite record smog-producing heat waves this summer. Make no mistake: we are making progress, but we need to do more to clean up the air. (Including a tougher crackdown on coal-burning emissions that blow across state lines – tougher than the version panned by Morris above.)


**

[HERE IS THE DRAFT LETTER NOTED ABOVE]

September xx, 2010

The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson

Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency

Ariel Rios Building

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20460



RE: Hazardous Waste Management System; Identification and Listing of Special Wastes; Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals From Electric Utilities Docket, Attention Docket ID No., EPA-HQ-RCRA-2009-0640


Dear Administrator Jackson:

On behalf of the nation’s governors, we write regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) June 21, 2010 proposed rule to federally regulate coal combustion residuals (CCRs). Governors continue to believe that EPA was correct in its 2000 regulatory determination that concluded regulation of CCRs under Subtitle C was unwarranted. Governors urge EPA to adopt the Subtitle D option of the co-proposal as this approach is fully protective of human health and the environment, is not unduly harmful to our state’s economies, ensures continued beneficial use of the materials and respects the historic and appropriate state-federal relationship with respect to waste management.

Waste Management

Governors understand the need to ensure that CCRs are properly managed and are confident in the ability of their states to effectively regulate this waste. To begin, states have found that through their extensive experience testing CCRs for hazardous materials, rarely, if ever, do CCRs fail the standard EPA test by which materials are determined to be hazardous waste. Moreover, given that the 136 million tons of CCRs produced each year represents one of the largest waste streams in our country, a hazardous waste definition under Subtitle C would increase by 67 fold the amount of hazardous waste disposed of each year. This level of hazardous waste would rapidly consume existing Subtitle C disposal capacity necessitating the need for additional disposal sites. However, siting new Subtitle C facilities is an often drawn out and controversial process that states have not conducted for decades and can take years to complete.


State Programs

Since both Subtitle C and Subtitle D options presented in the proposed rule are almost identical with respect to their requirements for design and operating criteria of CCR disposal facilities, artificially classifying CCRs as hazardous will needlessly impair the ability of states to operate effective programs that utilize a broad range of management options for CCRs, draw away precious state resources from the management of truly hazardous materials, and will not produce a greater degree of environmental protection. EPA should recognize that states already have the tools at their disposal to effectively manage CCRs under Subtitle D. In fact, the vast majority of states in which CCRs are generated already require state permits for CCR disposal facilities and many states already voluntarily impose minimum performance standards consistent with Subtitle D requirements. Moreover, there is no reason for EPA to assume that with the establishment of federal minimum standards under Subtitle D, states will not work to conform their programs.

Furthermore, if EPA opts to designate CCRs as hazardous waste under Subtitle C, this shift would swamp state Subtitle C programs, which are already strapped for funds due to federal underfunding of these mandated programs. At a time when states are instituting dramatic budget cuts and furloughing and laying off staff, it would be imprudent to impose the most costly remedy proposed by EPA, Subtitle C, when the Subtitle D option achieves substantially similar results at far less cost.


Beneficial Reuse

Governors are concerned about the serious consequences subtitle C designation could have on the beneficial use of this waste. Over 45% of the 136 million tons of CCRs produced each year are recycled into products like shingles, concrete and wallboard. However, having a material used in these products designated as hazardous under RCRA would create a stigma with consumers. Further, ___ states ban the beneficial reuse of hazardous materials (will add number once updated data is available). Therefore, with the stigma and various state limitations, subjecting CCRs to a hazardous waste definition would expand the use of virgin materials; increase the amount of CCRs diverted to disposal; eliminate jobs in industries that beneficially reuse CCRs; increase energy prices; increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions by one ton for every ton of fly ash not recycled, and drive up the cost of vital state infrastructure projects through increases in the price of concrete.


In summary, governors urge EPA to adopt its Subtitle D proposal since it fully protects human health and the environment without the adverse consequences entailed in Subtitle C regulation on state resources, disposal capacity, jobs, beneficial use, and the ability of states to operate effective regulatory programs that are reflective of on-the-ground realities.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. We look forward to working with you.



Sincerely,







Governor Mike Beebe

Chair, Natural Resources Committee
Governor Sean Parnell

Vice Chair, Natural Resources Committee

Friday, October 01, 2010

Eight govs endorse 60 mpg gas standard by 2025

Federal efforts to set tougher fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for cars received a real boost this morning as eight governors endorsed a 60 mpg fuel economy standard for cars by 2025. (Their call came in a letter from the governors of New York, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. We understand that New York Governor David Paterson’s people originated this letter.)

As you may know, the US EPA and Transportation Departments today are expected to announce plans to move ahead with tougher fuel economy standards for 2017-2025 model year cars, though the actual level of the standards has yet to be determined.

These governors are urging the Obama administration to act boldly to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our demand for oil. (Their position is aligned with those of environmental groups, but, frankly, I think this position carries more weight when coming from governors.) The governors also support a related effort to reduce greenhouse gases from heavy trucks.

So let’s give a real round of applause to these forward-thinking governors. While Congress has basically imploded on the energy issue, the governors may give the Obama administration a much-needed jumpstart to make real progress.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

While corporate opponents of clean air are on the march, EPA science advisers endorse tougher national particle soot standards

Some of the big business lobbies are planning today to assail EPA’s proposed toxic pollution standards for industrial boilers. We’ll eagerly await the details, but, with your permission, I would recall several things:

For 40 years we have heard predictions of doom and gloom from business groups every time EPA proposes tougher clean air controls. These predictions are invariably exaggerated. As we heard quite eloquently at yesterday’s 40th anniversary celebration of the Clean Air Act, we have seen steady progress towards cleaner air even as the economy grows. And we also were reminded that clean-air controls have been good for the economy by creating jobs. I also believe EPA has quite a good track record of responding to legitimate criticism, and I have no doubt the agency will make a careful evaluation of these new claims regarding the boiler rule.

Second, EPA has noted that its boiler proposal would have the side benefit of reducing dangerous particle pollution, an action that would translate into less death and disease.

We were reminded of just how important this issue is by a attached letter, just released by EPA’s independent science advisers. As you will recall, the EPA is reviewing the national clean air standards for particle pollution (from coal-burning, diesel engines, industrial boilers, etc.) with a proposal slated for early next year. EPA’s own scientists have concluded that the current standards fail to protect the breathing public.

And now EPA’s science advisers are on record with a strong recommendation on the need for tougher national clean air standards for particles – both the so-called “fine” particles as well as larger “coarse” particles. (Some of you are aware that the farm lobby is already mounting a campaign against the latter, while the former will almost certainly face opposition from the coal-burning electric power industry.) In fact, the science advisers are urging an even tougher “coarse” particle standard than recommended by EPA’s staff.

Here is a link to the letter: http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/WebCASAC/CCF9F4C0500C500F8525779D0073C593/$File/EPA-CASAC-10-015-unsigned.pdf

I will excerpt a few parts of the science adviser letter below.

EPA’s independent science advisers have sent a strong and unequivocal signal that current particle soot standards need to be made much tougher. We hope this will give EPA the scientific backbone to do the right thing.



Excerpts from the letter by EPA’s science advisers:

Primary Standards for Fine Particles

"CASAC supports the EPA staff’s conclusion in the Second Draft Policy Assessment that “currently available information clearly calls into question the adequacy of the current standards”. For PM2.5, the current 24-hour primary standard is 35 mg/m3 and the annual standard is 15 mg/m3. EPA staff also conclude that consideration should be given to alternative annual PM2.5 standard levels in the range of 13 – 11 ug/m3, in conjunction with retaining the current 24-hour PM2.5 standard level of 35 mg/m3, and that consideration could also be given to an alternative 24-hour PM2.5 standard level of 30 ug/m3 in conjunction with an annual standard level of 11mg/m3. CASAC concludes that the levels under consideration are supported by the epidemiological and toxicological evidence, as well as by the risk and air quality information compiled in the Integrated Science Assessment (December 2009), Quantitative Health Risk Assessment for Particular Matter (June

2010) and summarized in the Second Draft Policy Assessment. Although there is increasing uncertainty at lower levels, there is no evidence of a threshold (i.e., a level below which there is no risk for adverse health effects). In addition, these combinations of annual/daily levels may not be adequately inclusive. It was not clear why, for example, a daily standard of 30 ug/m3 should only be considered in combination with an annual level of 11 ug/m3. The rationale for the 24-hour/annual combinations proposed for the Administrator’s consideration (and the exclusion of other combinations within the ranges contemplated) should be more clearly explained."

_Primary Standard for Thoracic Coarse Particles


"CASAC recommends that the primary standard for PM10 should be revised downwards. While current evidence is limited, it is sufficient to call into question the level of protection afforded by the current standard (a 24-hour standard of 150 mg/m3)."

"CASAC supports the EPA staff conclusion that it is appropriate to change the PM10 standard to a 98th percentile form because of its higher rate of identifying areas in nonattainment while reducing the rate of misclassification. We do not agree that the available scientific evidence strongly supports the proposed upper bound standard level of 85 ?g/m3. The Second Draft Policy Assessment demonstrates that a 98th percentile level of 85 ?g/m3 would be less stringent as compared to the current standard, protecting a smaller fraction of the population. In fact, on a population basis, results in the Second Draft Policy Assessment demonstrate that a 98th percentile level between 75 and 80

?g/m3 is comparable in the degree of protection afforded to the current PM10 standard. The change in form will lead to changes in levels of stringency across the country, a topic needing further exploration.

While recognizing scientific uncertainties, CASAC supports a lower level to provide enhanced protection, somewhere in the range of 75 – 65 ?g/m3.

We recognize that the Administrator will need to apply the Clean Air Act’s requirement for a “margin of safety” in a context of uncertainty with respect to the health effects of thoracic coarse particles."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Coming tomorrow: Clean Air Act 40th anniversary celebration

Congress returns to D.C. this week amid the usual hail of partisan bullets. It is perhaps useful to have the occasional reminder that progress can be made (or, at least, has been made in the past) on a bipartisan basis.

And so, tomorrow the U.S. EPA celebrates the 40th anniversary of the landmark 1970 Clean Air Act, probably the nation’s most successful environmental law. And it is fitting that the celebration – expected to feature not only EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, but former Republican heads of the agency and former Senator Howard Baker – will be co-hosted by our friends at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Amid the swirling confetti, I hope everyone does realize the Clean Air Act has been a stunning success story: a government program that really works. It has brought cleaner air, longer lives, better health, technological innovation and jobs. You would never have seen a catalytic converter or a scrubber without this landmark law.

And though there have been compromises from its outset (law makers back in 1970 didn’t foresee that coal-burning electric power plants built in the 1950s would still be smoking away in the 21st century), there is no doubt that America is better off for having the law.

As you know, the EPA is under attack from some in Congress who want to block it not only from setting tougher new science-based national standards for smog, but who want to interfere with agency efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

History shows these law makers should stand down, because the Clean Air Act has a proven track record of being implemented in a common-sense, cost-effective way.

EPA has performed a series of reports to Congress documenting how the benefits have far outpaced the costs:

http://www.epa.gov/air/sect812/index.html

And although many millions still live in areas with unhealthful air – evidence that the job isn’t done -- EPA’s most recent “trends” report documents the continuing progress in recent years:

http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/2010/index.html

Since 1990, nationwide air quality has improved significantly for the six common air pollutants.

These six pollutants are ground-level ozone, particle pollution (PM2.5 and PM10), lead, nitrogen dioxide

(NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Nationally, air pollution was lower in 2008

than in 1990 for:

– 8-hour ozone, by 14 percent

– annual PM2.5 (since 2000), by 19 percent

– PM10 , by 31 percent

– Lead, by 78 percent

– NO2 , by 35 percent

– 8-hour CO, by 68 percent

– annual SO2 , by 59 percent



EPA expects air quality to continue to improve as recent regulations are fully implemented and states work to meet current and recently revised national air quality standards. Key regulations include the Locomotive Engines and Marine Compression-Ignition Engines Rule, the Tier II Vehicle and Gasoline Sulfur Rule, the Heavy-Duty Highway Diesel Rule, the Clean Air Non-Road Diesel Rule,and the Mobile Source Air Toxics Rule.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The billionaire boy's club assails cap & trade

Please note information below on the “mass demonstration” this morning against the Northeastern climate program known as RGGI.

As you probably know, Americans for Prosperity is an Astroturf front group at least partly funded by the Koch family. (Which is also helping fund an effort to block California’s climate law.)

A little background here: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Americans_for_Prosperity

and in The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=all

So it’s really a grassroots group brought to you by oil billionaires.

This demonstration is another example of how the climate issue has been swept up in the reactionary rip current.

RGGI, of course, was started by a Republican Governor (George Pataki of New York) and, as one of my reporter friends noted, proceeds from its auctions are being used to reduce the state deficits in New York and New Jersey.

**

http://www.americansforprosperity.org/issues/energy


***ACTIVIST ALERT -- AFP "Cap & Trade" Protest - Wednesday, September 8 in NYC!!!***
Monday, August 30th 2010

AFP will be holding a mass demonstration and protest in New York City, September 8 at 11am.

This event will take place right at the RGGI offices on Wall St. (90 Church St.) at the exact same time when the next secretive "Cap & Trade" auction is taking place.

This is our chance to blow the lid off of this "Cap & Trade" scheme that is already taxing businesses and consumers in our state.

You and I need to stop this scam now before it spreads to other states and permanently wrecks our nation's economy.

Read more: http://www.americansforprosperity.org/issues/energy#ixzz0ywVK2TM7

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Oil industry launches all-out assault on tougher smog standard

Well, the timing seems a trifle off, given quite a few states are facing “Code Red” or “Code Orange” smog alerts today. http://airnow.gov/

But we do have to report that the oil industry (and its obvious front group called America’s Energy Forum) is taking a break from agitating for resumed oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and humping dirty Canadian oil sands in order to agitate against the U.S. EPA’s plans to update national clean air standards for ozone, or smog.

In fact, if you look at the astro-turf America’s Energy Forum, you get the impression that the industry has launched an all-out assault against the EPA – and in favor of dirty air. http://www.americasenergyforum.com/issues/ozone

This industry-generated propaganda is based on distortion and flat-out lies. Consider this:

OILY FICTION: “this action lacks scientific justification and there is absolutely no basis for EPA to propose changing the ozone standards promulgated by the EPA Administrator just two years ago.”

THE TRUTH: EPA has proposed exactly what its independent science advisers have recommended. The “standards promulgated by the EPA Administrator just two years ago” (that would be in the oil-friendly Bush era) were based on politics, not science. The Bush administration ignored the science and the advice of the science advisers.

The science advisers made this recommendation because of clear and compelling evidence that smog can make you sick and even kill you.

But now this astro-turf-generated fiction is starting to pop up outside DC. Consider this commentary in Nevada, which not only inveighs against better clean air standards but denounces those “regulators.”

http://www.dailysparkstribune.com/view/full_story/9328549/article-New-federal%C2%A0rule%C2%A0on%C2%A0ozone%C2%A0levels%C2%A0has-unintended-consequences-for-Nevada?instance=secondary_story_left_column

Nevada, of course, is where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is locked in a close race with Tea Party/Republican candidate Sharron Angle, who argues on her web site in favor of more on- and offshore oil drilling. http://sharronangle.com/issues

EPA recently postponed a final decision on the smog standard until approximately late October.

You may want to keep an eye out for similar oily “commentaries” as we get closer to a decision.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What the heck is happening at the White House on climate?

It was bad enough when it appeared that the White House had pushed the EPA to consider a weaker and industry-friendly plan to deal with toxic coal ash.

And, as you know, there’s been much criticism about perceptions of the White House’s lack of commitment when it came to pushing Congress to deal with the climate issue.

But now this?

The White House has taken the extraordinary step of siding with the biggest and most vile polluters – against progressive states -- in a federal court case. The White House is urging the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that would have permitted “nuisance” suits against big sources of greenhouse gas emissions. http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/08/25/25greenwire-obama-admin-urges-supreme-court-to-vacate-gree-42072.html

What the heck is happening?

Some believe the Obama White House, having failed to enact climate change legislation, has adopted the old maxim when it comes to polluters: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. (I do not believe this is true of EPA.)

Or is this just skittishness going into the elections? If so, what other questionable decisions lie ahead after this round of elections, as the White House gears up for the next round?

I think they owe us a better explanation than the one given so far.

Monday, August 09, 2010

EPA slashes mercury, other toxins from cement plants

The US EPA has come forward with final standards designed to slash mercury and other toxic emissions from cement plants.

Details are available on EPA’s website here http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/t3pfpr.html

We are still going through all the details, but generally this is an extremely positive step towards cleaner air, taken despite scare-mongering by the cement lobby.

The rule will eliminate more than 8 tons (more than 16,000 pounds) of toxic mercury as well as make steep reductions in particulate soot, hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide and toxic gases from cement plants.

We encourage the cement industry to spend more money on cleanup – and less on lobbying.

Friday, August 06, 2010

For those of you with a sense of irony and justice: EPA sues power plant that President Bush once touted

Yes, it seems like only yesterday that President Bush toured the coal-burning power plant in Monroe, Michigan, to make fun of the US EPA and to tout his polluter-friendly changes to new source review – loopholes that were later found illegal by a federal court. His 2003 visit (and rhetoric) remains memorialized here:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/09/20030915-6.html

Turn the clock ahead to yesterday, when the new EPA sued the plant’s owner, DTE Energy, for violating the Clean Air Act by increasing pollution at the very same power plant without installing modern pollution controls: http://www.freep.com/article/20100806/BUSINESS06/8060312/EPA-sues-DTE-to-stop-a-generator

Needless to say, the EPA under President Bush did not press charges.

I offer this up for those of you who look for examples of how things are different under the current administration. In this case, it rightly decided to enforce the law.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Industry apologist Joe Lieberman does it again! Suggests "breather" for big polluters

You’ve got to hand it to Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman: he isn’t shy about apologizing for the biggest and most vile polluters.

Think back. It seems like only yesterday Lieberman was describing lobbyists for BP and other big oil companies as “our new friends.” http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2010/05/joe-lieberman-and-his-new-friends-at-bp.html

You may recall the context. Lieberman and cohorts John Kerry and Lindsey Graham were meeting with these oily friends in an effort to promote more offshore oil drilling in what someone called a “grand” bargain (grand for the big polluters) – the vain hope that the oil lobbyists would persuade oil-patch senators to vote for a cap on carbon emissions.

Several weeks later, the Deepwater Horizon Disaster sank that plan.

Oblivious to reality, Lieberman is at is again: This time apologizing for his pals in the dirty electric power industry, who are angling to kill or delay vital EPA clean-air requirements as the price of agreeing to a weak climate bill.

Yesterday Lieberman – who with Kerry may have worn out the knee area of his suits kissing so many sooty industry rings -- made the bizarre and most ironic assertion that the polluters “just want a breather” from clean-air standards.

"That's a tough one. They frame it in a different way. They just want a breather. And not an eternal pre-emption. These are all topics of negotiation. That's what we're supposed to be doing here."

I want to praise my friends with the Center for American Progress for taking Lieberman to task:

http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/07/20/lieberman-pollution-breather/

But why does this apologist for dirty industries get such a pass from the rest of the media?

Isn’t it about time for Lieberman to apologize to breathers for his behavior?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Clean Air Watch Smog Watch Survey: Dirty air this year in 40 states, plus DC

The Clean Air Watch Smog Watch Survey has found that no fewer than 40 states plus the District of Columbia have recorded unhealthful levels of smog (technically ozone) this year, through June.

That compares to 35 states plus DC in 2009. See the list of states below.

The survey, conducted by Clean Air Watch volunteers, is based on information taken from state-run web sites. It is the only contemporaneous nationwide snapshot of dirty air in America.

Overall, 2010 has seen almost the same number of overall smog days (the total number of recorded readings of unhealthful air at monitors) as in 2009 -- 1,146 compared to 1,122 last year.

It should be pointed out that these numbers understate the actual extent of the ozone problem. These only count monitors with ozone levels at or worse than 75 parts per billion -- the standard set by EPA in 2008. EPA has proposed setting a tougher standard, based on recent science, and is on schedule to make that final by the end of August 2010.

SMOG 2010 SUMMARY – THROUGH JUNE, COMPARED TO 2009


STATES WITH RECORDED UNHEALTHFUL LEVELS OF OZONE


2010 (40, plus DC)

Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
DC
Florida
Georgia
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
South Carolina
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Virginia
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming


2009 (35 plus DC)

Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
DC
Florida
Georgia
Illinois
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Mississippi
Missouri
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Virginia
Washington
Wisconsin


TOTAL SMOG DAYS


2010

1,146

2009

1,122

Friday, July 02, 2010

EPA scientists call for much tougher air standard to limit fine particle soot

This is not the sort of information best made public at the start of a holiday weekend, but here it is:

EPA’s professional staff has concluded that national air pollution standards for fine particle soot must be made considerably tougher.

The EPA “policy assessment” was posted on the Internet a short while ago at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pm/s_pm_2007_pa.html

Here is a key passage from the executive summary:

Primary standards for fine particles (Chapter 2):

In assessing the adequacy of the current suite of annual and 24-hour PM2.5 standards meant to protect public health against long- and short-term exposures to fineparticles, staff concludes that the currently available information clearly calls into question the adequacy of the current standards and that consideration should be given to revising the suite of standards to provide increased public health protection. In considering alternative PM2.5 standards, staff concludes that protection from both long and short-term PM2.5 exposures can most effectively and efficiently be provided by relying primarily on the annual standard, with the 24-hour standard providing supplemental protection for days with high peak concentrations. On this basis, staff concludes that consideration should be given to alternative annual PM2.5 standard levels in the range of 13 to 11 μg/m3, in conjunction with retaining the current 24-hour PM2.5 standard level of 35 μg/m3, and that consideration could also be given to an alternative 24-hour PM2.5 standard level of 30 μg/m3 particularly in conjunction with an annual standard level of 11 μg/m3.


This is a very significant development. You will recall that the Bush EPA rejected the advice of agency science experts and kept the all-important annual standard at a level of 15 (compared to the levels of 11-13 recommended by EPA’s staff now).

The EPA lost a lawsuit over those inadequate standards and is now working on a likely revision next year. This policy assessment is meant as a guide to help the EPA higher-ups distill the copious information.

Should EPA follow the advice of its own experts, it means we will need much tougher controls on the biggest sources of fine particle soot, including coal-burning electric power plants and the millions of dirty diesel engines still in service.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New report underscores need to crack down on power plant pollution

The report out today about power plant emissions (on NRDC’s website at http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution/benchmarking/2008/benchmark2008.pdf ) demonstrates why the EPA needs to take decisive action to reduce power plant emissions that harm people’s health.

As the report notes

The electric industry in the U.S. is a major source of air pollution. • In 2008, power plants were responsible for 66 percent of SO2 emissions, 19 percent of NOx emissions, and 72 percent of mercury air emissions in the U.S.

We encourage the US EPA to move ahead to clean up power plant emissions. There is no bigger or more dangerous source of air pollution in this country.

We hope an EPA proposal to limit emissions that blow across state lines will be announced this week. But that will be only the first step in what needs to be done to protect our health from power plant pollution.

It’s little wonder that some of the dirtiest power companies would like to kneecap EPA.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A climate policy debate on Salon

It should come as no surprise that Clean Air Watch generally agrees with Dave Roberts in the debate below, though we do believe the so-called Cap-and-dividend approach (which would make polluters pay for the right to shoot their emissions into the sky and then return most of the resulting money to taxpayers)is the best to tackle this issue.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/06/21/everley_roberts_climate_change_debate/index.html

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Smokey Joe Barton begs for forgiveness... and clings to job

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) will retain his top spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to GOP lawmakers.

Barton, who came under fire after apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward at a hearing last week for the way the government had treated the oil company, will stay on as ranking member of the committee, which oversees oil and gas regulation, among other areas.

Barton gave a "heartfelt apology" to members of the GOP conference on Wednesday morning, according to one of his toughest critics, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.).

more at

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/104963-barton-will-keep-top-gop-spot-on-energy-and-commerce

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NRDC: Don't weaken Clean Air Act for a utility climate deal

Bravo to our friend Dave Hawkins of NRDC for his very clear comments, as published today in Politico, opposing any effort by the electric power industry to weaken the Clean Air Act as part of a possible utility climate deal.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38821_Page2.html

…[NRDC’s Dave] Hawkins said he’s also prepared to fight any move by the utility industry to weaken the Clean Air Act as a trade off for its support on CO2 limits.

“We will oppose unequivocally and aggressively any attempt to weaken the current Clean Air Act,” Hawkins said. “The power sector has fought cleanup efforts under the Act for decades and the attack on pending rules for greenhouse gases and conventional pollutants is simply its latest gambit.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

BP apologist Joe Barton does it again! Apologizes for polluters, pressures EPA on new smog standard


Yes, friends, Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas has been a busy guy – apologizing to BP, and then apologizing for his apology after House Republican leaders threatened to oust him from his post as top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

But Barton, once nicknamed “Smokey Joe” by the Dallas Morning News, also is apologizing for air polluters.

Indeed, Barton is trying to pressure the EPA to back away from setting tougher air pollution standards for smog.

Barton and his Texas Republican colleague Rep. Michael Burgess complained about the likely new smog standards in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

You may recall the brief history: in 2008, the Bush EPA ignored the unanimous recommendations of the agency’s science advisers and set smog standards that were too weak. The Obama EPA is reconsidering that decision, and has proposed tougher requirements in line with the recommendations of the scientists. A final decision is due by late August.

We are at the point when key decisions on this issue start to get made. And so Barton has weighed in on the side of big polluters.

Barton complains in the letter that the new standards “appear to be extraordinarily expensive and unworkable.” (As if we are not paying a heavy price right now because of the health damage caused by smog!)

Barton wants EPA to ignore the science. We hope EPA will stick to its guns, and set science-based standards that protect people’s health.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Health dangers associated with the BP disaster

See interesting post here:

http://www.nursingschools.net/blog/2010/06/10-biggest-health-dangers-behind-the-oil-spill/

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

American Lung Association pans Lugar climate bill

The Senate Must Reject Lugar Bill
Undermines Clean Air Act and Other Public Health Protections

Statement of Charles D. Connor,
President and Chief Executive Officer,
American Lung Association


Washington, DC. June 9, 2010—The American Lung Association urges the U.S. Senate to reject Senator Richard Lugar’s efforts to block the cleanup of old, dirty coal-fired power plants. We are outraged to see this attack on the Clean Air Act included in the Lugar draft energy and climate change bill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving ahead to curb the pollution that leads to deadly smog and soot that hangs over communities across the country and to dramatically cut mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxics that spew from these plants. Americans should not have to wait another day –let alone nearly another decade –for cleaning up lethal air pollution from coal-fired power plant. The Senate must not halt the installation of lifesaving modern pollution control equipment.

The electric utility industry has spent decades fighting the installation of modern pollution controls. Now, the industry is facing an EPA –with the strong backing of the American Lung Association -- that is following the clear Clean Air Act requirements to cleanup emissions from major sources like these power plants because of the enormous harm those emissions do to public health. Instead of investing in pollution control equipment and cleaner energy, power plants are deploying battalions of lobbyists to seek this special protection and unconscionable exemption from the law.

These big utility companies have used every dirty trick in the past 40 years to avoid having to clean up their plants, causing delay after delay. The Lugar bill waives air pollution cleanup requirements for the oldest and dirtiest power plants nearly another decade and perhaps indefinitely if needed to avoid “energy disruptions,” without any requirement to eliminate or mitigate health hazards. For good measure, the bill also waives compliance with clean water protections.

The American Lung Association strongly opposes this legislation and any other changes to the Clean Air Act that undermine the protection of public health. We urge the Senate to reject this bill and any other legislation that weakens health protection.

Coal-fired power plants create particle pollution and key components of ozone. Both pollutants kill. Pollution from these power plants has been estimated to cause nearly 24,000 early deaths each year through their toxic impact on the lungs and the body. Power plant pollution causes wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks; both send children to the emergency room and people with lung disease, heart disease and diabetes to the hospital. Particle pollution causes heart attacks and strokes and may lead to lung cancer. These are lethal substances, recognized as such by repeated scientific review.

Particle pollution and ozone aren’t the only pollutants targeted under the bill as proposed—just the most widespread. The draft bill blocks safeguards applying to mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxics known under the Clean Air Act as hazardous air pollutants.

We urge and demand that the Senate reject this legislation that weakens the Clean Air Act.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Smog Watch 2010: dirty air found in at least 38 states through May

At least 38 states have experienced unhealthful levels of smog (technically ozone) already this year through May, according to the Clean Air Watch Smog Watch Survey.

That’s a significant increase from this time last year, when only 24 states had experienced smog problems. Please note the list of states below.

This widespread pollution problem calls into question the wisdom of legislation, expected to be introduced tomorrow by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) to suspend new pollution controls for coal-fired electric power plants, one of the biggest sources of smog.

The Lugar plan, as outlined on his website http://lugar.senate.gov/energy/legislation/pdf/PracticalEnergyPlan.pdf, could bring grave consequences: not only continuing smog, but also sulfur dioxide, deadly fine-particle soot and toxic mercury and other dangerous pollutants. We have not seen the actual language of the Lugar legislation, but the summary suggests amnesty for the biggest polluters – and giving them the right to continue fouling the air for another decade – in return for a “voluntary” pledge.

Breathers in Indiana are among those who have suffered from dirty air this year, as have people in states immediately downwind of Indiana, including Ohio and Kentucky.

The survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers is the first comprehensive snapshot of smog in the United States in 2010. Volunteers have compiled the information from a variety of sources including state-run websites.

It found that the national health standard for smog, technically ozone, was breached almost 600 times through May at monitors from California to Maine.

Clean Air Watch noted that smog problems are continuing in June, with bad air warnings out today in such places at Atlanta, Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. See EPA’s website at http://airnow.gov/

The Smog Watch Survey underestimates the full extent of the smog problem. The standard used as a measurement – 75 parts per billion of ozone, set by the U.S. EPA in 2008 – is weaker than a proposed new standard under consideration by EPA.

Clean Air Watch continues to encourage the Obama administration to set a tougher national health standard, no higher than 60 parts per billion, in accord with the latest health research.

We also encourage the EPA to move ahead with a new strategy to reduce smog-forming emissions that cross state lines. Our survey shows that an effective interstate pollution rule is crucial to meet public health needs.

It underscores that breathers will suffer terrible consequences if Congress suspends clean air requirements as part of an alleged strategy to deal with climate. Compromising public health should not be an option.

**

SMOG WATCH 2010 SUMMARY – THROUGH MAY, COMPARED TO 2009

STATES WITH UNHEALTHFUL AIR FOR OZONE


2010 (38)

Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
South Carolina
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Virginia
West Virginia
Wisconsin

2009 (24)

Arizona
California
Connecticut
Florida
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Missouri
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Texas
Utah
Wisconsin

Monday, June 07, 2010

Dirty dealings on Capitol Hill: Senator Lugar floats amnesty for polluters plan

No sooner had the US EPA set new national health standards for sulfur dioxide – standards that would prevent asthma attacks, emergency room visits and premature deaths – than those protections seem to be coming under attack on Capitol Hill.

http://www.epa.gov/air/sulfurdioxide/actions.html#jun10

The electric power industry was quick to point out that the new EPA standards would “certainly have an impact on electric utilities in terms of the need for us to continue to install new pollution-control devices on our power plants." http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/03/95301/epa-sets-first-new-limit-on-sulfur.html

But now comes word that a Republican Senator with some very dirty corporate constituents is riding to industry’s rescue.

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana is reported ready to introduce climate legislation that seeks to promote an “alternative” to the much-maligned cap-and-trade approach.

Part of Lugar’s plan, according to a draft on his website, would be to exempt power companies from Clean Air Act requirements to use pollution controls in return for a “voluntary” retirement program. See below from his web site.

This is a dirty scam and deserves to be exposed as such. It was obviously cooked up by some of the big power companies – both coal-heavy Duke and American Electric Power operate in Indiana. These companies have been evading pollution cleanup for many years. This seems to be their latest gambit.

Lugar in effect is offering an amnesty for polluters plan. This would be a gift to some of the biggest corporate polluters in America.

Remember, this isn’t just about sulfur dioxide. This could also block EPA efforts to reduce deadly fine-particle soot and smog-forming nitrogen oxides, as well as upcoming plans to sharply reduce toxic mercury and other pollutants. We recently detailed how the coal power industry’s has delayed toxic cleanup for two full decades! http://www.cleanairwatch.org/Documents%20&%20Reports/PowerPoisons_05242010.pdf

We expect to hear more about this soon from the public health community, led by the American Lung Association, which has openly criticized sections of the Kerry Lieberman climate legislation that could open the door to similar delays and exemptions. http://www.lungusa.org/press-room/press-releases/statement-of-charles-d.html




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From Senator Lugar’s web site:



http://lugar.senate.gov/energy/legislation/pdf/PracticalEnergyPlan.pdf





Retirement of most costly polluting coal plants

1. Establishes a voluntary retirement program for the nation’s most-polluting coal plants, comprising

approximately 16% (49GW) of coal generation capacity. In return for relief from regulations that

would require them to make costly investments in scrubbers over the next few years, participating

plants would be able to continue operation until 2020. Sec 302.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

EPA sets tougher new clean air standard for sulfur dioxide

Clean Air Watch commends EPA for moving aggressively to protect public health from the damages caused by sulfur dioxide air pollution.

Although the final standard is a bit less strict than we and the American Lung Association had urged, it is well within the range recommended by EPA’s independent science advisers. We would certainly give it a high passing grade—a B plus or A minus.

This action will mean fewer kids and adults will have asthma attacks. Fewer people will go to the hospital. And fewer people will die prematurely from air pollution.

It is little wonder that the oil and electric power industries opposed tougher new standards.

Amid all the recent grim news about the environment, this decision is a breath of fresh air.

Information on the EPA standard is here. http://epa.gov/air/sulfurdioxide/pdfs/20100602fs.pdf

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Power Poisons: How the Electric Power Industry Has Evaded Toxic Air Pollution Controls for Two Decades

As we anxiously watch the continuing catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, we did want to remind you there is another big toxic pollution problem that goes unresolved: the toxic emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal-burning electric power plants.

Within the next few weeks, the US EPA will roll out a proposed plan to crack down on smog and soot-forming power plant emissions. But this is only the first step in an effort to limit the massive health damage caused by coal power pollution. A new initiative to limit mercury and other toxic air pollutants is expected to follow next year.

But the power industry is already maneuvering to evade the cleanup – trying to use pending Senate climate legislation as an escape hatch.

With that in light, we thought it might be instructive to remind everyone that the electric power industry has already been evading toxic air pollution controls for two full decades.

The report is on our website, www.cleanairwatch.org under Hot Off the Presses.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kerry Lieberman bill could roll back Clean Air Act

I would like to direct your attention to something that is causing real concern among environmental advocates who work on health-related clean air issues.

It’s the suggestion that public health safeguards should be weakened to aid in the “transition” to lower-carbon future energy sources.

This is pretty dense legalese, but check out the “Task Force” that would be created on page 182 of the draft. http://kerry.senate.gov/americanpoweract/pdf/APAbill.pdf

The “Task Force” (which includes EPA, but also some historic enemies of clean-air controls) is told to explore “existing programs” and regulations for coal-fired power plants and the “effect” those programs could have on the transition to lower-carbon plants.

The “Task Force” is further directed to explore what the impact would be of permitting “exemptions” from major clean-air programs (such as controls for mercury and other hazardous air pollutants as well as standards designed to limit smog and soot-forming emissions) in order to maintain electric “reliability” during a transition period to theoretically cleaner energy. (This language appears to have come straight from the word processers of the dirty power companies that back this legislation.)

The “Task Force” is further directed to examine “Federal regulations currently under development for control of power plant air pollutants other than greenhouse gases.” That is code language for toxic mercury as well as upcoming standards to limit smog and soot-forming emissions. (As you may know, the White House is currently reviewing an EPA proposal for the latter.)

So what does this language -- obviously aided by ghost writers from the electric power industry -- mean?

It could trade more dangerous pollution today for the prospect of a shutdown later. It could block, delay or repeal vital health-related safeguards.

And (see page 186, item “e”) it literally demands that EPA “promulgate final regulations or guidance to implement the proposed changes described in subparagraph” about the mission of the “Task Force.”

As one of my friends put it, the attacks on the Clean Air Act’s smog, soot and toxics safeguards for power plants are officially underway.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

Report: EPA significantly weakened coal ash plan after White House review

A most interesting story this afternoon about EPA’s proposal on coal ash. And now we know why the proposal was stalled at the White House for many months.

Greenwire (as reprinted here in the NY Times online http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/05/07/07greenwire-epa-backed-off-hazardous-label-for-coal-ash-af-10431.html )

reports this afternoon that EPA’s proposal was radically changed during its unprecedented review by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

EPA backed away from its plan to propose strict regulation of coal ash as “hazardous” waste, and instead put that forward as one of two options – the other being a soft approach sought by industry.

Industry seems to have had its way at a White House that appears to have a hard time creating some distance between itself and the coal industry.

If this had happened during the Bush presidency, there would have been a huge outcry.

And this would have generated a lot of media attention.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Joe Lieberman and his "new friends" at BP

IT seems like only yesterday that Senator Joe Lieberman was praising his "new friends" from BP and several other oil companies. From Greenwire:

CLIMATE: Graham bids to ease tensions over competing Senate bills (03/25/2010)
Darren Samuelsohn, E&E senior reporter

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tried to defuse simmering tensions today over competing climate change bills that threaten to upend the global warming debate before it can even reach the floor….

Meeting with oil companies

Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are aiming to release their draft legislation next month after lawmakers return from their spring break, with a floor debate still the goal for May or June. The trio met this morning for more than an hour with representatives from ConocoPhillips, BP America and Shell Oil Co., the latest in a series of closed-door talks on key features of their proposal.

"Our new friends," Lieberman said during one of several short breaks the senators took as they went to the floor for a series of votes on the health care reconciliation bill.
Graham declined to go into detail on the structure of his bill's regulations for transportation emissions, except to acknowledge the oil companies are helping come up with a "linked fee" plan that keeps them separate from electric utilities and other industrial sectors.

"We want our oil and gas industries to flourish," Graham said. "We want to be able to price carbon in a way that moves us away from foreign oil and fossil fuels in general. But in the process create jobs, not destroys our refiners. Our goal is to do it in a business-friendly way from their sector, from their point of view. "

Kerry, Graham and Lieberman have two other key meetings with industry groups scheduled for today. One involves the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth (AEEG), which includes more than a dozen major trade associations, as well as a session with members of the Edison Electric Institute, the trade group for investor-owned electric utilities.

The senators also were meeting at press time with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a key player on cost containment and offshore drilling provisions.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Clean Air Watch commends EPA for proposed new air pollution protections

Clean Air Watch commends EPA for proposing aggressive action to clean up dirty, dangerous boilers.

This is a huge step towards protecting children from toxic mercury and other hazards from smokestack pollution.

Mercury can poison the brains of babies. The boilers in question are a significant part of the mercury problem, and it is high time they were cleaned up.

This is one of the most significant steps taken by the Obama EPA to protect public health. Literally thousands of dirty-air deaths would be prevented each year.

We strongly encourage EPA to stand up to pressure from big polluters to water down this important public health protection plan.

The EPA materials are available at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/new.html

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Senator Voinovich seeks to gut ability of EPA, California, or citizens, to deal with climate change

From Greenwire:

CLIMATE: Voinovich floats proposal for curbing GHG regulations (04/21/2010)

Robin Bravender, E&E reporter

Ohio Republican George Voinovich is circulating a proposal among his Senate colleagues that would impose broad limits on federal and state authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a Senate Republican aide said today.

The amendment would broadly pre-empt states and federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gases outside the authority of a climate bill. It would block U.S. EPA and states from regulating greenhouse gases except in certain circumstances where they directly affect public health or to protect the stratospheric ozone layer.

Attorneys who specialize in air regulation say the measure would also limit federal programs like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act and would prevent public nuisance litigation related to climate change. Additionally, the measure would give the Transportation secretary exclusive jurisdiction to regulate automobiles' greenhouse gas emissions.Voinovich is circulating the proposal ahead of the expected release next week of a climate bill from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). The Ohio Republican is considering adding the language to that bill or other Senate climate measures, the Republican aide said.

Pre-emption language is a "threshold issue" for Voinovich, the aide said: "To even start the conversation, this has got to be on the table." The aide added that the Clean Air Act, NEPA and the Clean Water Act "were not written with an eye toward addressing climate change."..


Clean Air Watch President Frank O'Donnell called the amendment a "thoroughly terrible idea" because "it would eliminate something we know works."

"It looks like it's a ploy by Voinovich to say, 'You want my vote, you're going to have to gut EPA and state authority,'" O'Donnell added.

Meanwhile, state regulators today warned the architects of the Senate climate bill against handcuffing states' authority.

"When it comes to energy policy and the environment, one size truly does not fit all," California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said today during a conference call concerning state pre-emption. She said that while California fully supports the need for federal climate legislation, a collaborative effort involving all levels of government will be needed to achieve the needed emissions reductions.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Polluters recruit some "progressive" Democratic senators to water down EPA toxic air pollution standards

The EPA next week is under a court order to come out with new proposed standards to limit toxic emissions from industrial boilers. See brief item, below from Greenwire, for a bit of background.

Potentially affected industries are lobbying furiously against tougher requirements.

Fox example, ExxonMobil and other industry lobbyists opposed to EPA met with the White House April 9.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/2060_meeting_04092010/

The lobbyists presented a letter on their behalf, signed by Democratic senators including Sherrod Brown, Mark Warner and Jim Webb, as well as by some more conservative Republicans including Kit Bond, George Voinovich and John Cornyn.

They are basically lobbying to water down the EPA rules, which are designed to reduce emissions linked to cancer and other bad health effects.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/oira_2060/2060_04092010-1.pdf

AIR POLLUTION: EPA gets 2-week extension for draft boiler rule (04/16/2010)
Robin Bravender, E&E reporter
U.S. EPA has received a two-week extension on its court deadline for proposing hazardous air pollution standards for boilers and process heaters, an agency spokeswoman said yesterday.

EPA was facing a legal deadline to issue the draft rule by April 15 aimed at cutting mercury and other toxic air pollution from industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters. But the deadline has been pushed to April 29, the EPA spokeswoman said.

Such boilers, which burn coal and other fuels to generate heat or electricity, are used by petroleum refiners, chemical and manufacturing plants, paper mills and other facilities.

The George W. Bush administration issued a boiler standard in 2004, but that rule was tossed out by a federal appeals court. EPA estimated then that the rule would cover 58,000 existing boilers and 800 new boilers built annually in the following five years.

Representatives of some industry sectors fear that EPA's rules will be overly restrictive.

Lobbyists for oil and gas companies, automobile manufacturers and forest-product producers went to the White House Office of Management and Budget last month to warn officials that EPA's upcoming draft rules may be too strict and could cause a host of facilities to shutter their doors (Greenwire, April 8).

Environmental groups, meanwhile, accuse industry of asking the administration to illegally water down the air toxics standards.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Big polluters sue against EPA air standards for nitogen dioxide

Perhaps it’s just that the forces of evil never sleep. Or maybe they are just mad that, unlike its processor, the Obama EPA did follow the advice of its independent scientific advisers.

We are told that polluters have filed suit in federal court, seeking to overturn the recent new EPA air quality standard for the pollutant nitrogen dioxide.

The petitions for review were filed yesterday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by the American Petroleum Institute, the Utility Air Regulatory Group (electric power companies) as well as by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.

You may recall that Clean Air Watch and the American Lung Association were less than ecstatic about the standard, noting that it was the weakest possible level within the range suggested by the scientific advisers.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=nitrogen-dioxide-no2-regulation-epa

Even so, it is disheartening to see the oil, gas and electric power industries spending more on lawyers rather than on cleanup.

This is probably the opening salvo in a barrage of polluter lawsuits as EPA moves to tighten other clean-air standards for smog and soot.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Missouri lead industry argues clean air standards are too tough -- because they protect kids!!

from today's E&E Daily:

AIR POLLUTION: EPA's lead rule is overly strict, industry groups argue (04/06/2010)

Robin Bravender, E&E reporter

The national standard for airborne lead pollution is stricter than it needs to be to adequately protect public health, industry groups told a panel of federal judges today.

Attorneys representing the Coalition of Battery Recyclers Association and the Doe Run Resources Corp. asked a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to vacate U.S. EPA's lead standard. When EPA tightened the national air quality standard for lead in 2008, the attorneys argued, the agency went beyond its obligation to set a level not lower or higher than necessary to safeguard public health.

The George W. Bush administration in 2008 revised the federal limits for the toxic metal for the first time in 30 years, reducing allowable airborne lead concentrations to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter from 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter (Greenwire, Oct. 16, 2008).

Dennis Lane, an attorney representing Doe Run, argued that the standard was too strict because EPA had focused too heavily on children who will be exposed to high lead levels, whereas the agency had identified all children as the entire sensitive population. As a result, greater protection is being provided than required under federal clean air laws, he said.

Stop the presses! Clean Air Watch and National Association of Manufacturers on the same page!!

Yes, it is a relatively quiet week in our nation’s capital. A chance to catch up on an issue that likely would have been lost amid all of last week’s announcements.

I am referring to the dire need to clean up the nation’s millions of dirty diesel engines that continue to spew life-threatening fumes.

A remarkably large coalition is calling on Congress to boost cleanup funding.

http://www.ectausa.com/documents/FY11DERASTAGCoalitionLetterSenate.pdf

http://www.ectausa.com/documents/FY11DERASTAGCoalitionLetterHouse.pdf

The coalition also is urging more funding for our friends with state and local clean-air agencies.

It’s a rare day when health and environmental groups join forces with trucking and diesel engine companies!

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Clean Air Watch and the National Association of Manufacturers on the same page!!As we note in the letter, cleaning up diesel engines not only creates jobs and cleans up the air, but it provides important global warming benefits.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EPA proposes to revoke Bush-era polluter loophole

We applaud EPA’s decision to propose closing this polluter loophole. It was one of the last-minute Bush administration gifts to polluters. It’s a loophole that needs to be closed.


**


EPA Proposes to Revoke New Source Review Final Rule
Release date: 03/30/2010

Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn milbourn.cathy@epa.gov 202-564-7849 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to revoke a January 2009 rule that changed the way existing industrial facilities combine upcoming construction projects to determine if Clean Air Act permits are needed.

EPA is concerned that the changes made last year to its “aggregation policy” would make the agency’s New Source Review permitting program less effective, allowing facilities to increase emissions that may impact air quality without a thorough review.

The new proposal responds to a petition to reconsider the 2009 rule. The 2009 rule directed facilities and permitting authorities to combine emissions from construction projects only when the changes are “substantially related,” such as having more in common than the timing of construction.

EPA is proposing to go back to its original policy, which required combining projects based on a broader range of factors. This would ensure that potential emissions increases that could harm air quality do not avoid review and the installation of state-of-the-art pollution controls.

New Source Review is a pre-construction permitting program to ensure air quality is maintained when factories, industrial boilers and power plants are built or modified. The program ensures that state-of-the art emission control technology is installed at new plants or existing plants that are undergoing a major modification.

EPA also is proposing to extend the effective date of the 2009 aggregation rule for an additional six months, to give the agency time to complete the reconsideration.
EPA will take comment on the proposal rule for 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/nsr/actions.html

Friday, March 12, 2010

EPA scientists call for tougher soot standards

from Greenwire:

AIR POLLUTION: EPA scientists recommend tougher soot standards (03/12/2010)
Robin Bravender, E&E reporter
The latest science supports substantially tightening U.S. EPA's air quality standards for soot in order to safeguard public health and the environment, according to a draft report from agency scientists.

Current evidence "calls into question whether the current suite" of health-based standards for fine particulate matter, or soot, "protects public health with an adequate margin of safety from effects associated with long- and short-term exposures," says the draft report issued this month.

EPA last revised its soot standard in 2006 under the George W. Bush administration, when the agency tightened the allowable concentrations of fine particulate matter from 65 micrograms per cubic meter to 35 micrograms when measured over a 24-hour period. EPA also opted to retain the annual soot standard at 15 micrograms per cubic meter, even though EPA's staff and scientific advisers had recommended a standard between 13 and 14 micrograms. EPA set an identical welfare-based standard at 15 micrograms...

In the draft report, the EPA staff suggests that the agency consider setting the annual and 24-hour standards so that the annual standard would provide long-term protection against long- and short-term exposures in conjunction with a tighter 24-hour standard to protect against high peak concentrations.

The report suggests two ranges to provide such protections that involve tightening the annual standard. One would tighten the annual standard to between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter while either retaining or revising the 24-hour standard in a range of 30 to 35 micrograms.

The second scenario would involve tightening the annual standard to between 10 and 11 micrograms per cubic meter, coupled with lowering the 24-hour standard within a range of 25 to 30 micrograms.

EPA staff also reached the preliminary conclusion that the available data calls into question the adequacy of the agency's current welfare-based standards that aim in part to protect visibility. The draft assessment urges EPA to consider alternative standards to provide further protection, particularly in urban areas.

Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, welcomed the draft report. "The agency's own experts argue that the science calls for much stricter limits on the public's annual exposure to deadly particle soot," O'Donnell said. "This could have big implications for some of the major sources of fine particle soot, especially coal burning and diesel engines."

O'Donnell added that the EPA staff recommendations are noteworthy because there have been preliminary indications that the Obama EPA is inclined to adopt its scientific advisers' recommendations. "They may not go to the lowest end of it, but they want to respect what the science advisers are putting forward," he said.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

News from California: power plant permit includes first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions

We have received very exciting news from California, where the local Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued an air pollution permit with what we believe are the first-ever mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions from a power plant.

This is a very significant development – all the more important because action in Congress on global warming has stalled. This could become an important precedent. It shows that the current Clean Air Act can be used to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The permit is detailed here on the website of the local air pollution control agency:
http://www.baaqmd.gov/~/media/Files/Engineering/Public%20Notices/2010/15487/PSD%20Permit/B3161_nsr_15487_res-com_020410.ashx

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (“Air District”) is issuing a Federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) permit to the Russell City Energy Company, LLC, for construction and operation of the Russell City Energy Center. The Air District is issuing this Federal PSD Permit in accordance with the requirements of 40 C.F.R. Section 52.21 and 40 C.F.R. Part 124, and under authority to issue PSD Permits delegated by EPA Region IX.


**



The main company involved, Calpine, has issued the following release which includes favorable comments from our good friends with the Natural Resources Defense Council.



CONTACTS:
NEWS RELEASE



Media Relations:
Investor Relations:

National, Industry Media Bay Area Media
Andre Walker

Norma Dunn Jason Barnett
713-830-8775

713-830-8883 415-227-9700
andrew@calpine.com

norma.dunn@calpine.com

Calpine Obtains Permit to Build Nation’s First Power Plant with Federal Limit on Greenhouse Gas Emissions


HAYWARD, Calif. – February 4, 2010 – Calpine Corporation (NYSE: CPN) today received approval to build the nation’s first power plant with a federal limit on greenhouse gas emissions – putting both the plant and the company at the forefront of the fight against global warming.

As national and world leaders continue to move toward regulation of global warming pollutants, Calpine, long a leader in generating environmentally responsible renewable and natural gas fired electric power, has worked to establish a first-of-its-kind limit on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from the company’s planned 600-megawatt Russell City Energy Center located in the City of Hayward in Alameda County, Calif. Construction of the natural gas-fired power plant is expected to begin later this year.



Today’s action by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to grant a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit is the final federal regulatory approval needed for the project to move forward. This action comes the day after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s senior policy advisory committee voted on guidelines for issuing permits to major sources of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change, such as power plants and oil refineries. At the committee’s meeting in Washington, DC, the groundbreaking PSD permit for Russell City Energy Center was presented as a “case study” for how the existing Clean Air Act can be used to regulate emissions of heat-trapping pollutants.


“Since our inception in 1984, Calpine has been an environmental leader investing in power plants that use modern emissions control technology and consistently outperform conventional fossil-fueled plants in curbing emissions that contribute to global warming,” said Jack A. Fusco, president and chief executive officer of Calpine. “By utilizing these environmentally responsible technologies, at plants such as Russell City, Calpine will help meet California’s growing demand for electricity while dramatically decreasing emissions.”

The Russell City facility will be designed to operate in a way that produces 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than even the most advanced coal-fired plants and 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the standard set by the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Once again California is demonstrating leadership on greenhouse gas related issues. We applaud the BAAQMD and Calpine for going beyond existing federal law and being the first in the nation to require an enforceable greenhouse gas limit,” said Linda Adams, California State Secretary for Environmental Protection. “This action furthers efforts at a statewide level to balance our economic needs while meeting our environmental challenges. Aggressive and early action like this is needed to fight global warming and is critical to our economic recovery.”

Using the most advanced emissions control technology available today for a natural gas-fired power plant, Russell City Energy Center will be an energy efficient supplier of electricity to the Bay Area. The facility is expected to play a critical role in helping to meet the region’s growing demand for cleaner energy as older, emissions-intensive power plants are shut down.

“Carbon emissions have clearly emerged as a critical indicator of environmental performance for power plants, and we commend Calpine for acknowledging as much by securing the first plant-specific mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Program Co-Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “We look forward to the not-too-distant day when all power plants will operate under greenhouse gas performance standards.”

The California Independent System Operation (CAISO), the nonprofit public benefit organization that operates the state's electric transmission grid, has been enthusiastic and supportive of the project.

“CAISO is encouraged by plants such as the Russell City facility which help ensure the reliable and efficient delivery of power to hundreds of thousands of consumers in the Bay Area,” said Jim Detmers, CAISO’s Vice President of Operations. “In addition to the plant’s environmental benefits, Russell City Energy Center will assist with successful integration of California's ambitious renewable portfolio.”

Powered by cleaner burning natural gas, plants like the Russell City Energy Center that use advanced combined-cycle technology are significantly cleaner than older power plants currently in operation. By providing a reliable backstop for intermittent renewable generating resources, such as wind and solar, these plants will help meet Governor Schwarzenegger’s aggressive goals that, by 2020, 33 percent of California utilities’ power be generated by renewable sources and statewide greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by 15 percent from current levels.

In addition to the environmental benefits, Russell City Energy Center will produce significant economic benefits for the City of Hayward and the Bay Area, creating 650 union construction jobs, injecting millions into the local economy and generating approximately $30 million in one-time tax revenue and more than $5 million annually in property tax revenue to help fund local government services.

The facility also will use 100 percent reclaimed water from the City of Hayward’s Water Pollution Control Facility for cooling and boiler makeup. This environmentally responsible process conserves water and prevents nearly four million gallons of wastewater per day from being discharged into San Francisco Bay.

Russell City Energy Center also will donate $10 million to help build a new library for Hayward and is working with stakeholders to make improvements and support programs that enhance the enjoyment of the San Francisco Bay shoreline.


The California Energy Commission granted a license for the plant in September 2007, and the California Public Utilities Commission approved a 10-year power purchase agreement in April 2009 under which PG&E will purchase the electricity generated by the plant.



The Russell City project is jointly owned by Calpine Corporation, which holds a 65 percent equity interest and serves as development manager, and an affiliate of GE Energy Financial Services, which holds a 35 percent equity interest.


For more information about Russell City Energy Center, visit www.russellcityenergycenter.com.



Details about PSD permit can be found at www.baaqmd.gov.



Calpine’s Commitment to California

Calpine has built and operated power plants in the State of California for 25 years and prides itself in developing innovative and environmentally responsible energy solutions for the people of California. Taken as a whole, Calpine’s projects produce enough electricity to satisfy the power needs of more than six million California households.



Calpine remains committed to California by providing clean, efficient and renewable power generation. With 5,800 megawatts in operation, including the newly commissioned, state-of-the-art 600 MW Otay Mesa Energy Center in San Diego, additional development projects include the 600 MW Russell City Energy Center in Hayward discussed above, the Los Esteros Critical Energy Center upgrade project and continuing expansion at The Geysers.



About Calpine

Calpine Corporation is helping meet the needs of an economy that demands more and cleaner sources of electricity. Founded in 1984, Calpine is a major U.S. power company, currently capable of delivering nearly 25,000 megawatts of clean, cost-effective, reliable and fuel-efficient electricity to customers and communities in 16 states in the United States and Canada. Calpine owns, leases, and operates low-carbon, natural gas-fired, and renewable geothermal power plants. Using advanced technologies, Calpine generates electricity in a reliable and environmentally responsible manner for the customers and communities it serves. Please visit www.calpine.com for more information.