Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A few quick thoughts on EPA’s mercury/toxic standards for power plants

The EPA has posted its final mercury/toxic standards for power plants. http://www.epa.gov/mats

We obviously haven’t had a chance to scrutinize all aspects of this, but here are a few quick thoughts:

This is truly history in the making. It is indeed a landmark accomplishment. After more than two decades of delay, dirty coal-fired power plants are going to be cleaned up in short order. The dirty, soot-spewing coal plant will soon become a relic of the past – a dirty industrial dinosaur.

Today’s action ensures that the cleanup of coal-fired power plants will be the signature clean-air achievement of the Obama administration. These standards complement the first cleanup phase embodied in EPA’s so-called Cross-State rule. In our opinion, these standards combined are more significant than the laudable vehicle fuel economy standards because cleaning up dirty power plants translates directly into massive health benefits. Americans everywhere will breathe easier – and will find fish safer to eat. And the EPA bent over backwards to accommodate concerns about electric reliability.

To understand how really positive today’s action is, one only need listen to the squeals coming from cleanup opponents. They lost this one.
On that note, a quick point. It has been alleged that the prior Bush administration issued the “first-ever” mercury standards for power plants.

Well, not really. Those of you who have been around will recall that the Bush EPA issued a more industry friendly cap-and-trade scheme calling for a reduction in the overall national amount of mercury from power plants over a very protracted timetable. Some analysts projected that the overall emissions would be reduced by about 69-70%, but not until 2026! Even then, many plants would have avoided any mercury emission controls. Oh, and by the way, a federal appeals court tossed out the Bush plan as obviously illegal (it did not require all power plants to meet a standard) and even made fun of the Bush crowd, saying they had used “the logic of the Queen of Hearts.” http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/68822E72677ACBCD8525744000470736/$file/05-1097a.pdf

In any event, the standards issued today will require much more cleanup much more quickly than the weak Bush approach.

A final note: you will doubtless observe as we did that some of the projected costs and benefits are both lower than those projected in EPA’s March proposal. As I understand it, these are the result of some things that have happened in subsequent months. For example, TVA agreed to a massive, multi-billion dollar cleanup in April

http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/tvacoal-fired.html

To avoid any legitimate charge of “double counting” benefits, EPA removed those benefits (eg, up to 3,000 premature deaths a year avoided by the TVA cleanup) from those itemized today. Likewise, because of new lower projections of natural gas prices. EPA is not counting air pollution benefits resulting from companies ramping up gas use or building new gas plants chiefly for economic reasons. Similarly, EPA now expects some companies to use less costly pollution controls than previously anticipated because of comments it received.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

EPA okays tough new standards for power plant emissions

from today's Washington Post:

The Obama administration finished crafting tough new rules Friday curbing mercury and other poisons emitted by coal-fired utilities, according to several people briefed on the decision, culminating more than two decades of work to clean up the nation’s dirtiest power plants.

As part of last-minute negotiations between the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency, the regulations give some flexibility to power plant operators who argued they could not meet the three-year deadline for compliance outlined by the EPA. Several individuals familiar with the details declined to be identified because the agency will not announce the rules until next week.

The new rules will cost utilities $10.6 billion by 2016 for the installation of control equipment known as scrubbers, according to EPA estimates. But the EPA said those costs would be far offset by health benefits. The agency estimates that as of 2016, lowering emissions would save $59 billion to $140 billion in annual health costs, preventing 17,000 premature deaths a year along with illnesses and lost workdays...

Several experts said the new controls on mercury, acid gas and other pollutants represent one of the most significant public health and environmental measures in years. The rules will prevent 91 percent of the mercury in coal from entering the air and much of the soot as well: According to EPA estimates, they will prevent 11,000 heart attacks and 120,000 asthma attacks annually by 2016.

“I think this will prove to be the signature environmental accomplishment of the Obama administration,” said Frank O’Donnell, who heads the advocacy group Clean Air Watch. “It will soon mean the end of the smoke-spewing coal power plant as we know it today. At the same time, the administration is trying to add a bit of flexibility to extinguish the bogus claim that these standards could mean lights out.”

More at http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/epa-finalizes-tough-new-rules-on-emissions-by-power-plants/2011/12/16/gIQAc2WTzO_story.html?hpid=z4

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Washington Whispers: why on earth would gas, nuclear lobbies back coal lobby's call to delay coal power plant cleanup?

Inside the Beltway is abuzz this week about a letter (below) sent to President Obama by various industry lobbies. The letter urges delays in EPA’s power plant cleanup for mercury and other toxic pollutants (an announcement is now expected next Monday).

Some of the letter signers are no surprise, given the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s opposition.

But here is the buzz – and the big question: why are the American Gas Association and the Nuclear Energy Institute among those calling for delays in coal power plant cleanup? Hasn’t one of the big claims been that the cleanup would reduce coal use—and lead to more use of alternatives, especially gas? I best most of the members of some of these groups – especially the gas and nuclear crowd – had no idea their DC representatives were selling them out.

Is this simply a case of inside-the-Beltway lobbyists scratching each other’s back – even if that harms member companies of those lobbies? (One of DC’s secrets is that the lobbyists do need to keep creating billable hours for themselves.) Do some of the most strident cleanup opponents, particularly Southern Company and American Electric Power, have enough juice to persuade the gas and nuclear lobbies to slit their own wrists?

Or could this just be a classic case of anti-regulatory political ideology triumphing over factual reality?

In any case, the President should ignore this silly letter. Coal power plant cleanup is long overdue. It will be highly cost effective. And it will save lives and prevent sickness.



December 9, 2011

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:

The organizations listed below share a common belief that affordable and reliable electricity is
critical to our economic growth and job creation. We also share a deep concern that the Utility
MACT rule, due to be issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on December 16,
2011 could cause significant electricity reliability constraints that would have a ripple effect
through our fragile economy, hurting businesses of all sizes. We urge you, as President, to
provide the leadership necessary to ensure that electric reliability risks of the final rule can be
managed effectively.

Reasonable regulation and regulatory certainty are essential for businesses to grow and prosper.
By contrast, regulatory uncertainty is a deterrent to putting Americans back to work, particularly
for small businesses. The potential costs of the UtilityMACT rule could have a major impact on
job creation and consumer demand for our products and services.

It is clear that some utilities will need additional time to comply with this rule beyond the three
or four years allowed under the Clean Air Act. Utilities must replace power plants, install
compliance equipment and build new natural gas pipelines and transmission lines. This is going
to cost tens of billions of dollars and require a reasonable number of years for a smooth transition
to a cleaner generating fleet. If the final rule fails to recognize these realities, our entire economy
will suffer.

The organizations responsible for the reliability of the electric grid—including the North
American Electric Reliability Corporation and regional transmission organizations—have
expressed serious concerns about the impact of the Utility MACT rule on reliability as electric
utilities replace power plants and install controls on so many plants during the same short time
period. The members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is
ultimately responsible for grid reliability, stated as recently as last Wednesday, that utilities
should not be forced to choose between reliable electric service and meeting environmental
requirements. While we agree with EPA’s proposal to provide an additional year to some power
plants for the installation of controls, we believe it should be a categorical extension of time. We
also urge you to delegate your presidential exemption authority under the Clean Air Act to
provide additional time as needed to those facilities that are making good-faith efforts to achieve
compliance.

We believe the goals of protecting public health and the environment and maintaining a reliable
electric system can both be met through an orderly and realistic transition period under the
Utility MACT rule. Achieving these goals will require your presidential leadership, and we urge
you to act.

Respectfully yours,

American Coatings Association
American Council of Engineering Companies
American Forest & Paper Association
American Foundry Society
American Frozen Food Institute
American Gas Association
American Iron & Steel Institute
Arizona Electric Power Cooperative
Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce
Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc.
Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. - Illinois Chapter
Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. - Rhode Island Chapter
Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. - Nevada Chapter
Associated Electric Cooperative (MO)
Associated Equipment Distributors
Associated General Contractors of America
Associated Industries of Arkansas
Association of American Railroads
Basin Electric Power Cooperative (ND)
Bay City Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture (TX)
Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce (NE)
Big Rivers Electric Corp (KY)
Birmingham Business Alliance
Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce
Brazos Electric Power Cooperative (TX)
Bristol Chamber of Commerce
Burlington/West Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce (IA)
Burnsville Chamber of Commerce (MN)
Business Council of Alabama
Business Roundtable
Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (OH)
Catawba County Chamber of Commerce (NC)
Center for Regulatory Effectiveness
Central Electric Power Cooperative (MO)
Central Electric Power Cooperative (SC)
Central Montana Electric Power Cooperative
Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry
Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce
Corn Belt Power Cooperative (IA)
Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce
East Kentucky Power Cooperative
East River Power Cooperative (SD)
Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce (WI)
Edison Electric Institute
Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce (MN)
Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce
Fentress County Chamber of Commerce (TN)
Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce (AZ)
Fullerton Chamber of Commerce (CA)
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Georgia Transmission Corporation
Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Grants Pass & Josephine County Chamber of Commerce (OR)
Great River Energy (MN)
Greater Centralia Illinois Chamber of Commerce
Greater Cleveland Partnership
Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce
Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce
Greater Omaha Chamber
Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
Greater Sandoval County Chamber of Commerce (NM)
Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce (GA)
Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce (VA)
Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative (IN)
Indiana Cast Metals Association
Indiana Chamber of Commerce
International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce (MN)
Johnson City Chamber of Commerce (TN)
Joliet Chamber of Commerce
Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce (MI)
Kankakee Regional Chamber of Commerce (IL)
Kansas Chamber of Commerce
Kansas Electric Power Cooperative
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce (IL)
Louisiana Association of Business & Industry
Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce (IA)
Metalcasters of Minnesota
Metals Service Center Institute
Midwest Power Coalition
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
Minnkota Power Cooperative (ND)
Mississippi Economic Council
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce (AL)
Monona Chamber of Commerce (WI)
Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce (WV)
National Association of Chemical Distributors
National Association of Manufacturers
National Black Chamber of Commerce
National Electrical Manufacturers Association
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Restaurant Association
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Nebraska Electric G&T Cooperative
Non-Ferrous Founders’ Society
North American Die Casting Association
North American Equipment Dealers Association
North Carolina Chamber of Commerce
North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation
North Dakota Chamber of Commerce
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Northwest Electric Power Cooperative (MO)
Nuclear Energy Institute
Oglethorpe Power Cooperative (GA)
Ohio Cast Metals Association
Ohio Chamber of Commerce
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (VA)
One Southern Indiana
Oskaloosa Area Chamber & Development Group (IA)
Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative (OR)
Pennsylvania Foundry Association
Portland Cement Association
PowerSouth Energy Cooperative (AL)
Prince William Chamber of Commerce (VA)
Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative (SD)
San Miguel Electric Cooperative (TX)
Seminole Electric Cooperative (FL)
South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry
South Mississippi Electric Power Association
Southern Illinois Power Cooperative
Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber (MI)
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Texas Association of Business
Texas Cast Metals Association
Tex-La Electric Cooperative
Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Wabash Valley Power Association (IN)
West Virginia Chamber of Commerce
Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (OK)
Wisconsin Cast Metals Association
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
cc: The Members of the United States Congress

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A MERCURY MASSACRE? will Obama and Senate Democrats kill toxic boiler cleanup as part of tax deal?

Rumor of the day: the President and Senate leaders are reported to be entertaining the idea of including in the pending tax legislation an amendment or rider that would block EPA toxic air pollution standards for boilers. Deals are being cut behind closed doors this weekend.

Let’s hope this is not true. The Obama administration appears to be expecting environmentalist applause for its upcoming mercury/toxic standards for electric power plants. It would be pretty hypocritical to permit the same type of toxic emissions to continue spewing from industrial boilers.

A mercury massacre? Say it ain’t so!

Senator Boxer's office has released the following:


For Immediate Release Contact: Mary Kerr or Kate Gilman: 202-224-8832
December 9, 2011 mary_kerr@epw.senate.gov or kate_gilman@epw.senate.gov

U.S. Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works
Boxer Calls on House Republicans to Stand with American People, Not Polluters
Calls for dropping dangerous riders from must-pass legislation


Washington, D.C. – Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, is calling on House Republicans to drop dangerous provisions from their payroll tax cut legislation that would stop a clean air rule that protects the American people from toxic mercury and arsenic pollution. The proposal also includes a provision to immediately move forward on the tar sands XL pipeline without proper consideration of public health and safety.

Senator Boxer said: “Why on earth would the Republicans give a payroll tax cut with one hand, and with the other hand, increase the likelihood of premature deaths, heart attacks, cancer, and developmental disabilities in children?

We know that this boiler MACT rule that Republicans are rushing to repeal will prevent up to 8,100 premature deaths per year, 52,000 asthma cases per year, 5,100 hearts attacks per year, and 400,000 lost work days per year.

There is no reason to do this other than to protect the largest polluters in the nation who should be cleaning up their act.

I also call on House Republicans to drop their provisions approving the controversial tar sands XL pipeline provision. As President Obama has said, this needs further study on the project’s implications for public health and safety. In fact, questions have been raised about the health and safety reviews to date and their connection to the polluter.

If there is one thing all Americans are united on it is their negative feelings about attaching unrelated matters to must-pass legislation that is needed to protect the economy -- especially when these provisions haven’t even had a vote. The House Republicans need to acknowledge that they should be serving the people, not the polluters.”

Friday, December 09, 2011

PSEG breaks with EEI over the latter's terrible position on mercury/toxic cleanup

The story of the day comes from us courtesy the National Journal, which reports exclusively that the big NJ-based utility PSEG has broken ranks with the Edison Electric Institute over the latter’s attempts to weaken EPA’s mercury/toxic standards for electric power plants. Please note below.

PSEG Chairman and CEO Ralph Izzo deserves our praise and thanks for his courageous position. (It’s always tough to step out from groupthink like this. Other utility execs have not.) Bravo!

I do want to point out that the story completely verifies what we have been reporting: that EEI – pushed by cleanup laggards American Electric Power and Southern Company – has been seeking not only cleanup delays and loopholes, but to weaken the mercury standard itself. Talk about greed!

What’s the next step? I guess it would make sense to ask EEI what it plans now that its ranks are so openly fractured.


http://www.nationaljournal.com/member/energy/epa-mercury-rule-ruffles-utility-group-20111208

EPA Mercury Rule Ruffles Utility Group
By Amy Harder

Internal rifts within the nation’s largest utility trade group keep popping up as the Obama administration’s new rules for mercury emissions loom.

An executive of a major power company told National Journal he is pulling away from the formal position the Edison Electric Institute has taken in objecting to the Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury standard for power plants, which EPA plans to finalize on Dec. 16.

Ralph Izzo, chairman and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group, a New Jersey-based utility, said in an interview on Thursday that his company was willing to compromise on delays to the rule, but when EEI started discussing increasing by 20 percent the amount of mercury pollution allowable under the rule, that was the last straw. His company pulled out of the internal negotiations and consensus position two weeks ago.

It remains unclear whether EEI, which chose not to comment for this story, ultimately ended up pitching the higher allowable pollution level to the White House or EPA. The rule is currently going through regulatory review at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

“The cumulative weight of the concessions finally came crashing down when the mercury standard began entering into debate,” Izzo said. PSEG’s power generation mostly comes from natural gas and nuclear power—energy sources not affected by EPA’s mercury rule—and about 18 percent from coal, the dirtiest form of electricity, which will be affected the most by EPA’s mercury rule. Coal is also the cheapest and most prevalent, providing nearly half of the nation’s electricity.

Current law requires companies to comply with the rule by 2015.
Izzo said that his company was originally part of a group of EEI member companies that had agreed to EEI’s consensus position despite not being wholeheartedly on board with some of those provisions. Those provisions include a one-year blanket delay for all power companies to comply and the possibility of invoking a presidential exemption that would allow for two or more years to comply if national security was at risk. If a power plant that generates electricity for a military base is shut down because of an EPA rule and grid reliability is jeopardized, the reasoning goes, that could present a national-security concern.

“We weren’t fond of the one-year delay and we weren’t fond of the presidential exemption,” Izzo said. “But in the interest of compromise and getting a rule we could all live with and not spend the rest of eternity battling in the courts … we were willing to compromise on several of those provisions.”

Izzo, who has been with PSEG in various executive positions since 1992, said he has never known a time when his company departed from EEI’s consensus position before.

“EEI does a lot of very good things that we’re supportive of,” Izzo said. “This disagreement would not push me to leave the organization.”
Internal divisions with a trade group as diverse as EEI are not uncommon and should not be surprising despite the media attention such rifts generate. Unity is critical when trying to convince the White House and EPA to delay or change the rule in any significant way, such as whether companies should have blanket extensions to comply or whether mercury pollution levels should be weakened.

While coal utilities like Southern Company and American Electric Power have been the most vocal about asking for more time, even some clean-burning utilities that will be able to comply within three years are fully on board with EEI’s request for more time, further complicating the internal dynamics of the group.

“It’s hard to get anybody’s assurances that they will get the flexibility they need the way the draft rule proposal has been written,” Lewis Hay, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, said in a phone interview last week. “That’s why I strongly support the one-year blanket extension.” NextEra Energy is the largest generator of wind and solar power in the country.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

U.S. Chamber of Commerce goes on the attack against EPA mercury toxic proposal -- but with a poor choice of image!


We are accustomed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce consistently siding with big polluters against any and all attempts to make them clean up. So this latest Chamber gambit should come as no surprise.

The business lobbying group has joined forces with the equally odious National Association of Manufacturers to launch an 11th hour campaign against the upcoming EPA plan to reduce mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants. http://www.chamberpost.com/2011/12/blackout-rule-threatens-economy/

With its usual heavy-handed approach, the Chamber visually portrays the standards as causing a blackout of the Manhattan skyline. This is utterly ludicrous and a dumb choice for an image. New York State has among the toughest emission standards in the nation. It was the state with the first acid rain controls, it has tough in-state standards on NOx, in-state limits on mercury and also is a member of RGGI. The lights have never gone out on Broadway as a result of emission standards.

So why would the Chamber get involved? Could it be because its board of directors http://www.uschamber.com/about/board/board-directors includes not only big coal companies Peabody and Consol, but Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers and an executive vice president of Southern Company, which both sent lobbyists to the White House recently to plead the case for looser standards. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/2060_meeting_11292011c

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

FLASH: at behest of dirty power companies, OMB staff presses EPA to weaken mercury standard for power plants

We have promised to keep our ear to the ground on the fierce lobbying on the EPA mercury/air toxic rule for power plants. There is an excellent story in today’s National Journal, but here is the very latest:

We are informed reliably that the White House Office of Management and Budget, at the behest of the coal-burning electric power industry, is now pushing the EPA to weaken its mercury pollution control requirements in its upcoming toxic pollution rule for power plants. Power companies could emit almost 20% more mercury under the dirty power industry scheme being promoted by OMB bean counters.

This is nothing short of outrageous. The White House should immediately disavow this latest attempt by OMB staffers to front for dirty industry. (You will recall the recent excellent report by the Center for Progressive Reform on the topic of OMB, its meetings with industry, and its impact on EPA. http://www.progressivereform.org/articles/OIRA_Meetings_1111.pdf )

In this case, the real culprit is the dirty power industry, which continues to push not only for delays and loopholes, but for the right to spew out more toxic mercury. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/fbeinecke/say_no_to_polluters_call_to_we.html

The push for weaker standards initially came from the so-called Utility Air Regulatory Group, which called last August in its official comments to EPA for a weakening of the proposed mercury standard from 1.2 lb/TBtu to 1.42 – or going roughly from a 91% mercury control requirement to about 75%. This change would mean thousands of additional pounds of toxic mercury being spewed into the environment each year.

The current push is being driven principally by Southern Company and American Electric Power Company because they apparently believe a weaker standard would cost them less.

Some trade off: more brain poisons so a couple of big companies could save a few bucks.

Associated Press on the "farm dust" farce

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2011/12/07/spin_meter_gop_debates_nonexistent_dust_rule/

SPIN METER: GOP debates nonexistent dust rule
By The Associated Press

EDITOR'S NOTE: An occasional look behind the rhetoric of public officials.
WASHINGTON — The issue may be dust in the wind, but Republicans are still moving to block it.
Environmental Protection Agency officials have said — over and over again — that they won't propose new regulations to limit dust kicked up by farm equipment. But anti-regulation sentiment is strong this year on the campaign trail, and real or not, House Republicans are planning to vote this week to prevent such regulations.
Republicans and even some Democrats have told farm-state audiences that the EPA is considering a crackdown on farms, despite the agency's public statement in October calling that a "myth."
Supporters say they are pushing the bill this week because they want more certainty for the agriculture industry. The House GOP has pushed a host of measures aimed at weakening, delaying or scrapping environmental regulations in recent months, saying they view them as job killers.
South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem, the bill's sponsor, says the EPA's assertions don't "hold a lot of water" for wary farmers.
"The EPA has been so aggressive on a lot of its policies, so we just want to make sure they can't take any action that can hurt the farm industry right now," she said.
Democrats have scoffed at the bill and are calling it a waste of time.
Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, joked sarcastically on Tuesday that the bill is "critically important" since the EPA has said they have no intention of regulating farm dust.
"We are once again doing a bill that is not necessary and has no effect," Hoyer said at a news conference at the Capitol.
In letters to two senators in October, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the agency won't expand its current air quality standards to include dust created by agriculture. "We hope this action finally puts to rest the misinformation regarding dust regulation and eases the minds of farmers and ranchers across the country," Johnson said then.
That didn't stop the opponents' message machine. Just a few weeks later, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who has since suspended his campaign, ran a television ad in Iowa that quoted a farmer saying "The EPA wants to regulate dust."
Though Republicans often blame the Democratic Obama administration for an overly aggressive EPA, the Republican Bush administration also had a hand in the matter. The Bush EPA proposed regulating rural and urban areas when it comes to "coarse particulate matter" in the air, meaning farms could fall under tighter restrictions. Farm groups challenged that in court, and a federal appeals court ruled in February 2009 that the EPA had already provided the evidence necessary to determine farm dust "likely is not safe."
Obama's EPA initially defended that decision. An EPA spokeswoman said after the ruling that regardless of whether someone lives in a rural or urban area, the threshold for unsafe levels of dust in the air should remain consistent nationally. But later, Jackson said the agency was unlikely to single out farm dust.
Under current rules, states are tasked with making sure that their levels of particulate matter in the air are below certain levels. Farm groups worried, however, that their pollution — dust kicked up behind a combine, for example — would be targeted separately.
Environmentalists say the House bill, which is not likely to make it through the Senate, would prevent the EPA from even considering tighter regulations if that became necessary for public health.
"When it comes to stuff in the air that could harm your health, it would be nice if the government could at least do an honest assessment," says Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. He says the bill is "totally detached from reality — the kind of issue that makes people cynical about Congress."

Monday, December 05, 2011

Special report: investigation finds concerns were overblown about EPA greenhouse gas permits

You may recall that industry spokespeople have claimed for many months that requiring big polluters to obtain greenhouse gas permits would harm the economy. For instance, when Texas under Governor Rick Perry refused to issue permits -- and the US EPA was forced to step in -- former EPA official (and current power industry lobbyist) Jeff Holmstead asserted "EPA takes forever to do permits."

But now it appears those concerns were overblown, to say the least. The authoritative BNA Daily Environment Report has published a special report detailing its investigation of real-world permit situations.

BNA found businesses were obtaining permits with "few problems." The publication found that 17 major sources of pollution have already obtained greenhouse gas permits this year, and that it has been a "smooth transition" to include greenhouse gases among permitted emissions. Contrary to some fears, the permit requirements did not prompt fuel switching.

Here is the piece Reproduced with permission from Daily
Environment Report, 233 DEN BB-1 (Dec. 5, 2011).
Copyright 2011 by The Bureau of National Affairs,
Inc. (800-372-1033)
www.bna.com

Industries, Regulators Report Few Problems
With Greenhouse Gas Permitting Program
BNA Snapshot
Greenhouse Gas Permitting for Industrial Sources
Key Development: EPA and states have approved 17 greenhouse gas permits for new and modified industrial sources with few problems reported since permitting began Jan. 2.
Potential Impact: Industries still have concerns with how regulators determine the required greenhouse gas controls and conflicts with other air pollution rules.By Andrew Childers
The addition of greenhouse gas emissions to the prevention of significant deterioration permitting process has largely been a smooth transition, industry representatives and state regulators told BNA.
EPA and state regulators have finalized 17 permits through Nov. 21 that limit emissions of greenhouse gases from new and modified industrial sources since the permitting took effect Jan. 2. Another 100 are pending, the agency said.
Industry representatives said the permitting process has gone more smoothly than they may have initially predicted. However, they say they are still concerned about how controls are determined and potential conflicts with other pollutant rules.
“The fact there have been 17 permits approved shows states are really figuring out how to do this,” Margaret Peloso, an attorney at Vinson & Elkins LLP who works on permits for industry clients, told BNA.
Permits Target Efficiencies
PSD requires new and modified sources to obtain permits for emissions of regulated air pollutants and to control those emissions using best available control technology (BACT), determined individually for each source
Permitting includes a review process to determine the optimal controls for each facility, or BACT. The BACT process is a “top down” review that begins by identifying all available control technologies.
For greenhouse gases, that could include expensive and infeasible options such as carbon capture. However, as the review proceeds, it eliminates controls that are infeasible, too expensive, or environmentally inefficient.
EPA said the majority of the permits issued have focused on energy efficiency as a surrogate for greenhouse gas controls, something the agency recommended in its guidance to states (217 DEN A-5, 11/12/10).
Permits issued to date largely require facilities to ensure they are burning fuel as efficiently as possible.
Because the controls are determined for each facility and only 17 permits have been approved in 12 states and one for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, industries said it is difficult to detect any trends in how EPA and states are applying the BACT controls.
“It's hard to know how this is going to play out until we see more units permitted and different types of units and how the guidance gets applied or not applied by state authorities and EPA to an individual set of circumstances,” said Steve Kohl, a partner at Warner, Norcross & Judd LLP who represented the Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative for two permit applications in Michigan.
However, reducing emissions through efficiency has been the main focus for permits.
EPA also has indicated its preference to have specific emissions limits included in permits, rejecting a permit in Utah that did not include specific greenhouse gas limits.
And EPA went further with a permit it issued recently in Texas. The agency set limits for individual greenhouse gases, rather than a general limit on overall emissions based on their carbon dioxide equivalency.
Permitting ‘Not as Traumatic.'
Permits that have been issued have not required industries to switch fuels or make other changes to their business practices, Peloso said.
“What you're seeing is once states get down to the brass tacks of the doing it, it's not as traumatic as it could be,” she said.
Don Neal, vice president of environment, health, and safety for Calpine Corp., told BNA that the PSD permits issued for other regulated pollutants often included provisions limiting the amount of fuel that could be burned in a year as part of their required pollution controls.
Regulators have been able to convert that restriction into a numeric greenhouse gas emissions limit based on the chemical composition of the fuel, he said.
“No one should have an issue with complying with that because you've already limited, per se,” Neal said.
Calpine received one greenhouse gas permit in February for a 600 megawatt natural gas-fired combined cycle power plant and has three other applications pending (23 DEN A-5, 2/5/10).
Marty Gray, section manager for major new source review at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told BNA Dec. 1 that EPA's guidance document and the three permits issued by the federal agency have provided valuable examples of the agency's expectations.
Gray said states are not only examining the efficiency of individual pieces of equipment, but EPA is encouraging them to create a monitoring process to track any decline in efficiency as the units age.
“It's gone pretty smoothly for us once we recognized what EPA's concerns were,” he said.
Michigan Leads in Permitting
Michigan leads all states in permitting, having approved three to date. Iowa has approved two permits while California, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin have issued one each. EPA has issued permits in California, Texas, and the Gulf of Mexico.
PSD permitting requirements for greenhouse gas emissions began Jan. 2, with industrial facilities required to obtain permits if they also would be required to obtain the permit for other pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides or sulfur dioxide.
As of July 1, new industrial facilities that emit the equivalent of 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year and modified sources that increase their emissions by 75,000 tons annually were required to get PSD or Title V operating permits for greenhouse gases regardless of whether they triggered the permitting thresholds for other air pollutants.
EPA had predicted as many as 900 new applications under the permitting requirements, but state regulators have said those estimates were off (111 DEN A-2, 6/9/11).
EPA Criticizes Utah Permit
EPA has kept a close eye on the efficiency measures required by state and local regulators.
“I do think the regulators are paying attention to, ‘Is this really as efficient as it could be?' They're still looking at, ‘Does that equate to an energy efficient unit,' ” Kohl said.
EPA in a March 4 letter criticized a permit proposed by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality for PacifiCorp Energy, which plans to add two natural gas-fired generating units to its existing Lake Side Power Plant in Utah County.
EPA said the proposed permit would have required PacifiCorp to use “high efficiency” gas turbines with heat recovery steam generators rather than set numeric emissions limits on greenhouse gases.
“High efficiency” was never defined sufficiently in the permit, the agency said.
The two new units would double the facility's greenhouse gas emissions to 1.8 million tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to the facility's permit.
“This proposal of an undefined design standard as BACT, rather than a numerical emission limit, does not satisfy the definition of BACT” under the Clean Air Act or Utah's state implementation plan, EPA said.
The final permit issued to PacifiCorp in May limited the plant's annual greenhouse gas emissions to 950 pounds per megawatt-hour.
Gray said the efficiency requirements in the proposed permit were equivalent of the eventual numeric emissions limit, but Utah added the numeric limit after consulting with EPA.
“We basically tried to follow the guidance EPA had put out for that,” he said. “The only thing we didn't do was establish an actual limit. That's where we had a falling out with EPA. Once they explained the importance of that we went ahead and did that.”
Texas Permit Targets Individual Gases
Most of the permits issued to date have set emissions standards for greenhouse gases on a carbon dioxide-equivalent basis.
However, the permit issued for the Lower Colorado River Authority's Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant in Texas includes individual emissions limits for methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride, all greenhouse gases regulated by EPA. Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and carbon dioxide are the other regulated greenhouse gases (219 DEN A-7, 11/14/11).
Industry representatives said they are closely watching to see if other state regulators set limits on individual greenhouse gases in EPA's wake.
The Lower Colorado permit is “potentially a signal that EPA as a whole is going to be looking for more defined, numeric limitations. How states are going to arrive at those is a very important question,” Peloso said.
EPA is issuing greenhouse gas permits in Texas because the state refused to implement a greenhouse gas permitting process. It is the only state to refuse to update its state implementation plan to include greenhouse gas regulations in its PSD requirements.
While EPA has taken over greenhouse permitting in Texas, the state continues to administer prevention of significant deterioration and new source review permitting for other regulated pollutants.
That places applicants in Texas on a two-track review system.
Calpine has two pending applications in Texas, Neal said.
“It will be interesting to see who issues the permit first,” he said. “So far, based on the discussions we've had with Region 6, things are progressing well.”
Permitting, Nitrogen Rule Could Conflict
Another concern for industries is how the greenhouse gas control requirements will be affected by EPA's more stringent air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide.
The permits typically require facilities to improve how efficiently fuels are burned, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. However, that improved combustion efficiency tends to increase emissions of nitrogen oxides.
This creates a “tension” in the BACT analysis between the two pollutants, Peloso said.
“In some cases that has caused greenhouse gas BACT not to be as high as it could be,” Peloso said. “That could become particularly significant as the new one hour standard for [nitrogen dioxide] comes into place.”
EPA issued the first hourly national ambient air quality standard for nitrogen dioxide of 0.10 part per million (100 parts per billion) in February 2010 (75 Fed. Reg. 6473; 15 DEN A-4, 1/26/10).
Areas not in attainment of EPA's nitrogen dioxide standards may be forced to accept higher greenhouse gas emissions as a result, Peloso said.
“If you're looking at a site where you have very stringent controls on [nitrogen oxides] and compliance must be achieved through modeling, which makes that level of control more stringent, it's going to force state permitting officials to make some very significant tradeoffs,” she said.
Regulators have successfully dealt with similar conflicts through the BACT process before, Neal said.
The oxidation catalysts used to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide increase emissions of particulate matter, he said.
“That's the beauty of the top-down BACT process. That's what it's designed to do,” Neal said.

Friday, December 02, 2011

EPA's new toxic boiler proposal: only a tiny fraction of boilers would meet tough emission limits; why are opponents squawking?

Dear friends, as you probably know, the US EPA today is releasing a new proposal to deal with the toxic pollution caused by industrial boilers and related activities.

This has been an extremely controversial issue, with a range of polluters lobbying Congress to block EPA from taking action. The House of Representatives obliged, taking both dictation and campaign contributions, though the President has said he would veto rollbacks.

The EPA has just made its new proposal public http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion/actions.html , so we obviously have not had much time to analyze it. However, a couple of things do seem worth noting:

EPA does seem to be working hard to make sure that the cleanup produces cleaner air in a practical and affordable way. It notes that the proposed standards would avoid up to 8,100 premature deaths and 52,000 asthma attacks a year. It also estimates that every dollar in cost would produce $12 to $30 dollars in benefits. Even the bean counters like OMB’s Cass Sunstein ought to like this one.

It appears that more than 99 percent of boilers in the country are either clean enough that they are not covered by these standards or will only need to conduct maintenance and tune-ups to comply. Today’s proposals focus on the less than one percent of boilers that emit the majority of pollution from this sector. Even among the biggest industrial boilers (14,000 of them), 88% percent of those would be required to conduct periodic tune-ups. Only 12% would be required to take steps to meet
emissions limits if they do not already meet them. http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion/docs/20111202msboilerfs.pdf

So EPA is really trying to focus the cleanup on the biggest and dirtiest boilers out there.

This is obviously a very serious source of toxic pollution – one that needs to be dealt with to protect public health.

Opponents in Congress ought to stand down and let the agency move forward with what looks to be at least an effort to deal with this mess in a practical and cost-effective way. (This is, by the way, just a proposal. Industry groups and others will doubtless continue to sound off as we all examine this proposal in more detail.)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Washington Whispers: why on earth would President Obama give an unprecedented special exemption to dirty power companies?

As you know, the plot continues to evolve over the EPA’s upcoming mercury/toxic pollution standards for power plants, with leading companies now pressing hard at the White House for various delays and loopholes. As the National Journal reported (below), even a cleaner power company that has tried hard to scrub its image has joined with its dirtier Edison Electric Institute frat brothers to press for weaker requirements.

One such request – or should I say demand? – involves use of the so-called presidential exemption in the Clean Air Act. If you are not familiar with it, see http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00007412----000-.html
And specifically
(4) Presidential exemption
The President may exempt any stationary source from compliance with any standard or limitation under this section for a period of not more than 2 years if the President determines that the technology to implement such standard is not available and that it is in the national security interests of the United States to do so. An exemption under this paragraph may be extended for 1 or more additional periods, each period not to exceed 2 years. The President shall report to Congress with respect to each exemption (or extension thereof) made under this paragraph.
This provision is like the ultimate safety valve, and clearly wasn’t meant to be used except in the case of a genuine emergency. (As you probably know, the Clean Air Act already gives companies 3 years to clean up, with a possible extension of a fourth year.)

Further delays and loopholes seem to be nothing but a gift to industry. (Even DOE now says the EPA standards won’t pose a reliability threat http://1.usa.gov/sTgpSz )

But the Edison Electric Institute is trying to exploit this exemption and broaden it into an institutionalized Obama Loophole. EEI floated some illogical concepts in its official comments, arguing that a “national security” exemption should apply if a delay is certified by a non-governmental organization like NERC or an RTO to be “consistent with the state-approved integrated resource plan (or similar state process).” Consistent, in other words, with a company-designed road map. A rather cheesy way, don’t you think, to justify spewing more poisons?)

We understand the latest EEI pitch includes trying to institutionalize this exemption by seeking that it be written directly into EPA’s preamble and/or rule itself, and possibly asking that the President delegate his authority directly to the EPA.

Now we generally like the EPA, but this idea of an Obama Loophole is only being floated because the companies think they can exploit it further if it’s actually written into the rule or preamble. The question of the moment: why would the White House possibly entertain such an outlandish demand?

Consider that the Obama re-election campaign is already claiming credit for this rule!!
http://www.barackobama.com/record/environment?source=footer-nav
Improving the quality of our air
Under President Obama’s watch, the Environmental Protection Agency has set up the first national standards for mercury emissions and other dangerous chemicals from coal and oil-fired power plants.

The new rules will help to clear our skies of pollutants that can make health problems like asthma and bronchitis worse, saving up to 17,000 lives each year.
Yes, that is the Obama re-election campaign noting that each year of delay could mean up to 17,000 premature deaths.

So why would on earth would the President and his staff permit these standards to be undermined by insider lobbying?

Is there some unreported personal relationship involved?

As you probably know, one of the critical EEI lobbyists is Brian Wolff, former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He was, for example, documented at an OMB meeting with White House big dogs like Cass Sunstein and Heather Zichal. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/2060_meeting_10312011

Wolff raised so much campaign cash for Democrats in the 2010 elections that Politico dubbed him the “King of Democratic bundlers.” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/48742.html

We will continue tracking this and related angles to this still-evolving story.

Below is the story I referenced if you haven’t already seen it.


*
ENVIRONMENT
Clean-Energy Company Joins Call for More Time on EPA Rules
By Amy Harder

Coal companies aren’t the only ones who want the Obama administration to give at least one year—and more if necessary—for utilities to comply with new clean-air rules.

Lewis Hay, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, the largest generator of wind and solar power in the country, told National Journal on Wednesday that he thinks the Environmental Protection Agency should give all companies one more year to comply with the agency’s mercury standard that EPA is expected to finalize by Dec. 16. He says that extra year is critical to ensure utilities can continue providing electricity without putting at risk grid reliability when old plants get retrofitted or replaced with cleaner plants. Current law requires companies to comply with EPA’s mercury standard by 2015.
“It’s hard to get anybody’s assurances that they will get the flexibility they need the way the draft rule proposal has been written,” Hay said in a telephone interview on Wednesday evening. “That’s why I strongly support the one-year blanket extension.”
Hay takes that position despite confidence that his company, which produces 50 percent of its capacity from wind energy, would be just fine without more time. “We will be in full compliance on time in the initial three-year period,” he said. “We will not have any reliability issues."
Hay's views coincide with the official position of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents 70 percent of the U.S. power industry. Hay is vice chairman of EEI and a member of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Hay also said he supports EEI’s request that Obama issue an executive order that could give certain companies at least two more years to comply if national security were at risk. In industry circles, this is known as the “presidential exemption” outlined in Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. If a power plant generating electricity for a military base is shut down because of an EPA rule, the reasoning goes, that could present a national-security concern.
Hay argued that the administration should be ready to “potentially utilize the presidential exemption.”
Kathleen Barron, vice president for federal regulatory affairs and policy at Exelon, the nation’s biggest nuclear-reactor company and also one of the biggest supporters of EPA rules, said at a conference on Wednesday that her company would also support the presidential exemption in limited situations.

National Journal reported earlier this week that utilities with coal-fired power plants—which would be most affected by EPA's mercury rules—are urging the administration to use the presidential exemption to provide companies more time to comply with the regulations.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Arsenic-laced apple juice! Another reason EPA must clean up toxins (including arsenic!) from coal-burning power plants

Here’s another reason why EPA must move ahead to clean up the toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants – including mercury and arsenic.

Consumer Reports has found arsenic in bottled apple juice. http://gma.yahoo.com/arsenic-juice-study-prompts-action-084002586.html

It’s unclear exactly where that arsenic is coming from, but we do know coal-burning power plants spew out this carcinogen. EPA’s toxic pollution standards would sharply cut arsenic levels.
http://www.epa.gov/airquality/powerplanttoxics/pdfs/presentation.pdf

The White House ought to keep this in mind when the dirty power companies – especially American Electric Power and Southern Company – plead for a special deal so they can keep spewing arsenic and other toxins.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mercury/toxic standards for power plants...AN OBAMA LOOPHOLE?...the plot sickens

As you know the lobbying is becoming more intense by the moment as we draw closer to a final decision on EPA’s upcoming mercury/toxic pollution standards for power plants.

A fascinating story (below) in today’s National Journal notes that some coal-heavy power companies and the Edison Electric Institute are now putting it to President Obama directly: they want him to delay cleanup of deadly power plants by invoking a “national security” provision of the Clean Air Act. This is one of the more appalling excuses for delay that we have ever heard. I mean really!

EEI reportedly is also lobbying for a blanket (and possibly illegal) four-year cleanup deadline. (It could be a poison pill provision. These lawyers are very crafty! That sounds to us like a way to create another opportunity to sue after the rules are issued.)

We all know from prior reports that most power companies are poised to meet these standards. It looks as if EEI is being dominated by the lower common denominator – dirty companies such as American Electric Power and Southern Company, which are spending big time lobbying for additional delays so they can keep spewing mercury and other toxins.

The question at hand: will the Obama Administration mar what could become one of its signature clean-air accomplishments by adding an Obama Loophole?

**


ENERGY
Coal Utilities Propose Clean-Air Exemption
By Amy Harder
.
Coal-fired utilities seeking more time to comply with the Obama administration’s clean-air rules are invoking a rare statutory tool that grants companies more time if the country’s national security is at risk.
Edison Electric Institute, the trade group representing 70 percent of the U.S. power industry, is urging President Obama to issue an executive order under the Clean Air Act that exempts a company from any Environmental Protection Agency rule for two years “if the President determines that the technology to implement such standard is not available and that it is in the national security interests of the United States to do so,” as the law states. This provision also states that the exemption “may be extended for 1 or more additional periods.”

Industry sources said that the provision has never been used.

On Dec. 16, the EPA is expected to finalize a controversial rule that aims to slash 90 percent of mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. All utilities would be required to comply by 2015. Because coal is the dirtiest fuel used to generate electricity, coal-intensive utilities like American Electric Power and Southern Company would be hit the hardest.

EEI’s reasoning for invoking the national-security clause goes like this: The compliance time frame —primarily for the mercury standard—could force some power plants to shut down, triggering brownouts and blackouts. There could be shortages in areas with military bases, making it a national-security issue.

“It is widely understood, most recently in discussions about the importance of cybersecurity in our electricity infrastructure and the importance of national security and defense facilities having secure, reliable electric service, that the provision of reliable, cost-effective electricity is critical for national security,” EEI stated in comments submitted to EPA.
An industry source said such a request “would be so rare” because the proof threshold is so high. Still, at least one company is already eyeing this exemption.

“There is a coal-fired plant that is scheduled to be shut down that is currently providing electrical power to a series of military installations on our Atlantic shoreline,” said former Sen. John Warner, R-Va. (Warner is a consultant on both national-security and energy issues at Hogan Lovells.) The company, which Warner declined to identify, is hoping “the president will issue his executive order simultaneous with the EPA rule” on Dec. 16.

Separately, EEI is asking EPA to give all companies four years instead of three to comply. That means some companies could get up to at least six years to become compliant.

Lobbyists for clean-burning utilities say it’s just another delay tactic by coal companies. Some national-security experts question the connection coal utilities are trying to make.

“It baffles me that they would assume national-security planners would be caught blindsided by an EPA rule that makes coal-fired power plants go offline,” said Will Rogers, an energy and national-security expert at the Center for a New American Security.

This article appeared in the Tuesday, November 29, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily.

Monday, November 28, 2011

CERES: only a few power companies seek to delay important mercury/toxic cleanup standards

I came across an excellent blog post a bit ago, by the nonprofit Ceres. Please note below. It notes, accurately, that only a few politically active power companies such as American Electric Power and Southern Company seek to delay EPA’s important mercury/toxic pollution standards. Given all the nonsense being tossed out (by folks in the employ of these companies, I might add), I think this article adds important perspective. Most companies either meet the standards already, or are telling investors it won’t be a problem.

Why should people across the nation keep breathing harmful and even deadly air just so a couple of laggards can get a deal? We will keep very close watch on this issue in the coming days. Meanwhile, this is a good read:

http://www.ceres.org/press/blog-posts

Delay Tactics: A Few Big Utility Companies Seek to Delay Important Clean Air Protections

The EPA is scheduled to release its Mercury and Air Toxics (a.k.a., Utility MACT) Rule on December 16. The rule will establish, for the first time, limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants from coal-fired power plants. Although power plant operators would not be required to comply with the Utility MACT rule until 2015 or 2016, members of Congress and some within the electric industry have been suggesting that EPA push back the compliance schedule even further. AEP, for example, has suggested that it may need until 2020 to comply.

by Dan Bakal, Director of Electric Power Program, Ceres — Ceres Posted on Nov 28, 2011

The EPA is scheduled to release its Mercury and Air Toxics (a.k.a., Utility MACT) Rule on December 16. The rule will establish, for the first time, limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

Although power plant operators would not be required to comply with the Utility MACT rule until 2015 or 2016, members of Congress and some within the electric industry have been suggesting that EPA push back the compliance schedule even further. AEP, for example, has suggested that it may need until 2020 to comply.

I have been reviewing industry earnings call for several years, and in my most recent review of 3rd Quarter earnings calls, I looked closely at how companies are positioned to comply. I was surprised (and pleased) to find that, despite the heated rhetoric, most companies have been assuring financial analysts that they are well on their way in terms of cleaning up their coal fleets.

For example, take Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, which generates more than 60 percent of its electricity from coal. He recently described his “fleet modernization” program during the company’s third quarter earnings call. The company has a number of new power plants coming on-line and is on track to have “nearly 100%” of its coal generation capacity equipped with advanced pollution control systems.

A new report out today details positive statements made by 30 power companies indicating that early investments in their power plants have put them in a good position to comply with EPA’s new air pollution rules. The report notes that these companies represent 50% of the nation’s coal-fired power plants, and eleven of the 15 largest coal-based electric power companies utility companies. Across the fleet, about 50% of coal plants are very well controlled with scrubbers and other pollution control systems.

So, let’s do the math:
• 70% of the nation’s electric generating facilities are not affected by EPA’s Utility MACT Rule because they rely on natural gas, nuclear, or other non-emitting energy sources.
• 15% of the nation’s electric generating facilities are coal plants that are already complying or well on their way to comply with the Utility MACT Rule.
• This means that 85% of the nation’s electric generating fleet is unaffected by the rule or ready to comply.

This leaves me asking, just why is it that some in Congress are considering delaying important health protections for millions of Americans to accommodate a small fraction of the electric generating fleet and a minority of companies?

Among the most vocal companies calling for extended delays of the Rule are AEP, Southern Company, and MidAmerican. I see no sense in delaying important health protections for a few companies that have failed to make investments in cleaning up their fleets. AEP, for example, has only installed scrubbers on about half of its coal fleet.

Furthermore, why delay important health protections when utility companies have record amounts of cash on their balance sheets that could be used to modernize their generating fleets, creating millions of good paying, skilled construction jobs?

A recent Ceres analysis shows that the top 20 electric generators in the U.S. have record cash reserves exceeding $35 billion. This capital is sitting on the sidelines precisely because many companies have been anticipating this new rule, and are ready to invest, as the country struggles with high unemployment.

Recent polling sponsored by Ceres shows that the American public is not interested in further delays. The nationwide poll shows that by a wide margin, voters of both political parties and in all regions of the U.S. support the EPA’s new rules to limit air pollution from coal-fired power plants. Two-thirds of the respondents – 67 percent – oppose Congress delaying implementation of the air pollution rules, according to the national survey of 1,400 voters.

So, with most companies standing ready to deploy private capital that creates jobs, and a public that strongly supports the Toxics Rule, it makes more sense to move forward than to postpone or delay.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Report: cleaner gasoline means less smog in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast; more NOx reduction in the region than under EPA cross-state rule

There is an interesting report out this morning by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management: http://bit.ly/uhrdOZ

It shows that cleaner, low-sulfur gasoline would bring immediate improvements in smog levels throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. A tidbit that I found very interesting (see fact sheet, below): that reducing the sulfur content of gas would actually cut more smog-forming nitrogen oxides in the region than would EPA’s Cross-State pollution rule. (Though both are definitely needed.)

There are some interesting state-by-state statistics here for folks outside DC.

This is the second report in past few weeks on the topic. (You may recall the excellent report issued Oct. 31 by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies: http://www.4cleanair.org/documents/NACAATier3VehandFuelReport-EMBARGOED-Oct2011.pdf ). That report noted the cleaner air could be had for less than a penny a gallon of gas. What a bargain!

(The oil companies, naturally, have argued the cleanup would cost more. But they are mixing apples and oranges, because their cost assessments are padded with the supposed expense of additional changes to gasoline – vapor pressure – that EPA is not contemplating.)

We hope the EPA will read these reports and get moving! After all, President Obama promised action on this issue more than a year ago.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.




FACT SHEET

Assessment of Clean Gasoline in the Northeast
and Mid-Atlantic States

A new report available at:
http://www.nescaum.org/documents/nescaum-tier-3-low-s-gasoline-20111121.pdf/

by
Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM)
November 21, 2011

• Many areas of the Ozone Transport Region[1] (OTR) will not achieve or maintain the health-based national air quality standard for ozone (0.075 ppm, 8-hr average) after full implementation of current pollution control programs.
• The USEPA is expected to propose a “Tier 3” motor vehicle rule setting more stringent emission limits for cars and light-duty trucks in early 2012 and finalize the proposal in late 2012.
• The USEPA rule would include tailpipe standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter (PM), which the USEPA intends to harmonize with California vehicle standards.
• The proposed rule is expected to include a requirement to lower gasoline sulfur content to an average of 10 parts per million (ppm) from its current average of 30 ppm.
• Lowering the sulfur content of gasoline allows pollution control equipment (3-way catalysts) on cars and trucks to operate more effectively by reducing sulfur “poisoning” of the catalysts.
• Emission reductions from introducing 10 ppm low sulfur gasoline would occur immediately from the existing motor vehicle fleet, without the need for fleet turnover, due to improved catalyst performance on existing vehicles.
• On a regional scale, NOx emissions have the largest impact on ground-level ozone (smog) formation during high pollution episodes.
• On-road gasoline vehicles are the largest source of NOx emissions in the OTR.
• Over 51,000 tons of NOx from gasoline vehicles could be reduced annually in the OTR in 2017 with the introduction 10 ppm low sulfur gasoline.
• Exposure to smog can:
- Reduce lung function, and aggravate asthma and other chronic lung diseases
- Cause permanent lung damage from repeated exposures
- Increase risk of premature death
• The amount of NOx reductions achievable in the OTR from 10 ppm low sulfur gasoline is about three times greater than what will be achieved in the OTR from power plant pollution controls under the USEPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. Both measures will be needed to help meet the 0.075 ppm ozone health standard.
• NOx also is a major contributor to other health and environmental problems in the OTR, such as fine particulate matter, acid rain, poor visibility, and nitrogen over-enrichment in coastal bays and estuaries (e.g., Chesapeake Bay).
• The public health benefits of reducing smog and sulfate particles from introducing 10 ppm sulfur gasoline in the OTR are estimated to be in the range of $230 million to $1.2 billion dollars annually. In contrast, the cost of lowering sulfur in gasoline is estimated to be in the range of $143 - $400 million annually. The estimated benefits are conservative, and do not include benefits from reducing other harmful impacts of NOx, such as acid rain and nitrogen over-enrichment in coastal bays and estuaries.
• The cost-effectiveness of low sulfur gasoline in reducing NOx emissions is estimated to be in the range of $2,500 - $7,000 per ton of NOx removed. This compares very favorably to other pollution control strategies already implemented or under consideration in the OTR, some of which have cost estimates exceeding $10,000 per ton of NOx removed.
• Failure to obtain cost effective NOx reductions from gasoline motor vehicles, the largest source of NOx emissions in the OTR, could require additional controls on other local sources at higher cost.
• Because 10 ppm low sulfur gasoline would be a national program, it will also have benefits in areas outside the OTR, along with reducing pollution transported into the OTR from motor vehicles operating in the Midwest and Southeast.

[ 1 ] The Ozone Transport Region was created by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, and covers the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region encompassing CT, DE, DC, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, and the northern VA counties in the DC metropolitan area.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Public Power companies: it'll take us longer to add a scrubber than it did to build the Hoover Dam (oh really??)

We are becoming accustomed to some pretty darned outrageous claims by industry groups and their advocates as we draw closer to the mid-December plan by the US EPA to (finally!) set mercury/toxic pollution standards for coal fired power plants.

And here’s one that really takes the cake. Public power companies (remember when we used to think of them as good guys?) are now telling the White House that it would take them 77 months to install needed pollution controls. See the letter below.

Are you kidding me? By comparison, private companies built the legendary Hoover Dam in less than five years! http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/History/storymain.html

You want a little more mundane comparison: Constellation Energy added all needed pollution controls (thanks to Maryland state requirements) to its Brandon Shores coal power plant In a mere 26 months. So this argument, based on a “survey” of member companies (I bet not by Gallup) is baloney.

Slicing a bit more of the baloney: the letter notes that someone during a recent White House meeting (and I would bet that person was not from EPA) asked how many public power plants are in areas that currently “attain” national clean air standards for smog and soot.

First all, that isn’t even relevant, because these mercury/toxic standards are aimed at reducing mercury and related toxics, not smog!

Secondly, as we all know (read yesterday’s piece in the NY Times if you haven’t) the White House wouldn’t let EPA set national smog standards at an appropriate level because of political considerations. National clean air standards for fine particle soot aren’t set at the right level either. (The Bush administration’s too-weak plan was thrown out by a federal court as being arbitrary and capricious; the Obama administration has been too chicken to advance a new standard even though a new report notes it could prevent 35,000 premature deaths a year http://earthjustice.org/soot )

So arguing whether these dirty facilities are in “attainment” areas or not is just a typical DC lobbyist game. It’s a delaying tactic. No wonder these jokers claim it would take them longer to add a scrubber than it took to build the Hoover Dam!

**

November 16, 2011

Mr. Dominic Mancini

Branch Chief of Natural Resources and Environment
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)
The Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503

Dear Mr. Mancini:

I write to thank you on behalf of the American Public Power Association (APPA) for the November 3, 2011 meeting regarding the proposed U. S. EPA NESHAP for mercury and its anticipated significant impact for the nation’s public power utilities. APPA’s 2,000 state and community-owned utilities own approximately 200 coal-fired units with an aggregate generating capacity of 31 GW. APPA writes this letter to both thank you and the attendees of the meeting as well as to notice the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) docket of our meeting (docketed at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/2060_meeting_11032011).

While estimates of the number of retrofits to meet EGU MACT regulatory requirements, closures of existing coal plants, and replacement of most of those coal plants with new natural gas plants vary, the sheer scale of the efforts will be enormous. Given this scale, the issue of providing sufficient compliance time in order to maintain an adequate and reliable supply of electricity is APPA’s top priority.

A survey of our members illustrates that 99% of public power’s coal-fired plants need 77 months to comply. A survey of our members shows this is necessary to conduct system planning, convene public meetings, obtain financing, construct, install and calibrate for use all the required control technologies (baghouses, Activated Carbon Injection, Dry Sorbent Injection, scrubbers, and in some cases, to install a second baghouse).

APPA is very concerned with the time gap that will exist for publicly elected officials and utility managers between the 48th month currently allowed and the actual date of completion without a mechanism to prevent the utility from operating their coal fired power plant in criminal noncompliance or under the risk of citizen suits. APPA’s primary purpose in meeting with your staff was to augment the detailed comments submitted to the U. S. EPA (docket) on August 3, 2011 and to explain these unique
and significant factors that the U. S. EPA and the OMB should consider when finalizing the mercury NESHAP.

While regulatory accommodations to provide additional time are rare given the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) statutory language, the U. S. EPA did provide additional compliance time for the Marine Tank Vessel Loading regulation because of labor feasibility. The statute also provides for Presidential Exemptions (extensions) through Executive Order. In addition, APPA recommended in our comments an administrative mechanism for providing additional compliance time using the Title V permitting program
that we believe is within U. S. EPA’s authority under the CAA. This mechanism would provide the necessary time for improving air quality while also preventing our member communities from in criminal non-compliance with the CAA and shielding them from citizen suits. APPA believes that our Title V permit mechanism is a preferred approach but we are certainly open to the use of Presidential Exemption(s) or other mechanisms that achieve the same goals. We believe strongly that whatever mechanism is adopted should be included the final EGU MACT rule.

APPA’s original comments also addressed a wide range of issues that stretched well into technical concerns regarding particulate matter, monitoring, and recommendation for mercury only (no acid gas)
controls. In addition, we addressed our timing and technical concerns under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA), Small Business Regulatory Fairness Act (SBREFA), Executive Order 12866, and all relevant aspects of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

We also noted that existing Executive Orders (e.g. EO 12866 OIRA) provide "Regulatory Principles" that include requiring that U. S. EPA consider how regulatory requirements might significantly or uniquely
affect small communities and governmental entities. In Sections 1(5) and 1(9) the EO outlines requirements to design regulations in the most cost-effective manner to achieve the objective and to minimize those regulatory costs and burdens that uniquely and significantly affect such governmental
entities. "In addition, as appropriate, agencies shall seek to harmonize Federal regulatory actions with related State, local and tribal regulatory and other governmental functions". The EO states in Section J(ll)
that "Each agency shall tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, (including individuals, businesses of differing sizes) and other entities, including small communities and governmental entities),
consistent with obtaining the regulatory objectives, taking into account, among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs of cumulative regulations".

Another key recommendation in our comments was to urge inclusion in the final rule of a subcategory to address the area source control options to regulate mercury at smaller power plants < 100 MW.

At the November 3rd meeting, APPA was asked how many of the overall coal-fired power plants in our membership are in attainment areas. Following our meeting, APPA reviewed the CSAPR and Ozone/PM/SO2 county maps and we cross-referenced the U. S. EPA maps and county lists with the EIA
database for our member utilities’ coal-fired power plants. We have determined that 62 of our 65 coal-fired power plants covered by (EGU MACT) or 95% are in attainment areas under current NAAQS standards. Forty-five of the 65 power plants are affected by the CSAPR rule. (We did not include
co-ownership of units with investor or cooperatively owned utilities in this breakdown due to insufficient data).

Additionally, APPA’s members have 23 units at 20 utilities that are <25 MW representing approximately 121 MW and will be regulated under the separate ICI Boiler MACT rule. APPA believes that based upon the preponderance of the public power coal-fired units in attainment areas, that OMB and U. S. EPA’s inclusion of the subcategory and a mechanism for timely compliance through the utility’s Title V permit without risks of criminal noncompliance or citizen suits provide no opportunity to expand the number of nonattainment areas or expose the public to hazardous air pollutants.

There is one other issue that we did not raise at the meeting that we would like to mention here. We urge the U. S. EPA and OMB to reject a proposal recommended by regional transmission organizations for establishment of a so-called “reliability safety valve”. This proposal discriminates between regions of the country and would allow certain generating units not planning to retrofit to receive waivers for compliance from mercury NESHAP. The market conditions prompting this proposal are better addressed
by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission through changes to the design and operation of those markets.

APPA believes that these recommendations comport with the guiding principles set forth in Executive Orders 12866 and 13563, and do not compromise the integrity of the CAA’s reduction of health risks
from human health exposure from mercury resulting from coal combustion. Our suggestions offer practical opportunities for the U. S. EPA and OMB to reduce the most significant and burdensome impacts to the utility sector. We appreciate your consideration of our recommendations. We would be
happy to provide any additional information.

Sincerely yours,


Mark Crisson

President & CEO



MC/TP/JN



cc:

Ms. Lisa Jackson, Administrator, U. S. EPA

Ms. Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, U. S. EPA

Ms. Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

Mr. Bob Wayland, U. S. EPA

Mr. Tom Gillis, U. S. EPA

Ms. Karen Thundiyil, U. S. EPA

Ms. Cortney Higgins, OMB

Mr. Drew McConville, Council on Environmental Quality

Ms. Manisha Patel, Council on Environmental Quality

Mr. Michael Drummond, Council on Environmental Quality

Mr. Stiven Foster, Council on Environmental Quality

Mr. Glen Sheriff, Council on Environmental Quality

Mr. Rob Johansson, Council of Economic Advisors

Mr. Bruce Rodan, Office of Science and Technology Policy

Mr. Ali Zaidi, White House Domestic Policy Council

Mr. Mike Clark, OMB

Mr. Kevin Neyland, OMB

A fabulous New York Times editorial on clean air and politics

Politics and Clean Air

President Obama’s decision in September to scuttle stricter national standards for smog may well go down as the worst environmental decision of his administration — unless, of course, even more damaging retreats lie ahead. The decision was a setback for public health, a victory for industry, which had lobbied strongly against the standards, and a public embarrassment for the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who had proposed them.

The White House insisted that the decision had been made on the merits and that the standards would throw people out of work by burdening industry with costly new rules at a time of economic uncertainty. It also insisted that industry pressure and politics did not play a role. Finally, it argued, the rules could be revisited and strengthened in two years (after the election), when new science would be available.

This page was not impressed by those arguments then and is no less skeptical of them now in light of John M. Broder’s exhaustive account in The Times on Thursday of the steps that led up to the decision. The article paints a picture of an aggressive campaign by industry lobbyists and heavyweight trade groups like the American Petroleum Institute that began soon after it became clear that Ms. Jackson was determined to tighten the rules governing allowable ozone levels across the country.

The standards governing ozone — the main component of harmful smog — are supposed to be set every five years. But because the standards proposed by the Bush administration in 2008 were seen as inadequate by the scientific community and had been challenged in court, Ms. Jackson decided to set her own standards, tough but achievable. Their health benefits would approximate their costs, and they would not begin to bite for several years, giving industry time to prepare.

Until the very last moment, she believed that Mr. Obama would go along. But as The Times’s article made clear, she had very few friends in the White House and many opponents — not least William Daley, the president’s chief of staff, who had been incessantly lobbied by business and by state governors fearful that the rules would cost jobs.

In one telling moment during internal negotiations, E.P.A. experts laid out the numbers on the lives that would be saved and the illnesses avoided by the proposed rules. At which point, Mr. Daley asked: “What are the health impacts of unemployment?” — a question the article describes as “straight out of the industry playbook.”

Defending its record, the White House cites tougher fuel economy standards and promises to move ahead with new rules governing mercury and other toxic emissions. It is also required under law to begin addressing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. But the very same forces that killed the ozone rule are now mobilizing to delay or weaken these other rules. This time, Mr. Obama should let science and public health, not his electoral prospects, be his guide.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Former EPA policy chief slams White House for timidity

[an excerpt from Greenwire] Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011 U.S. EPA's former policy chief is accusing the Obama administration of failing to mount a forceful defense of environmental regulations in the face of fierce partisan attacks. Lisa Heinzerling left EPA after a two-year stint last December, just after the 2010 midterm elections put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives. Now back in her teaching job at Georgetown Law Center, Heinzerling -- who played a key role in crafting the administration's greenhouse gas regulations -- has leapt back into the fray with a paper written for the American Constitution Society, a left-leaning legal group. The paper is to be officially released Monday. Heinzerling expressed concern in particular at the language in President Obama's January 2011 executive order that required agencies to examine regulations and conclude whether any could be "more effective or less burdensome." The administration, she writes, has "focused almost entirely on the costs, and not the benefits of regulations," a sentiment shared by many environmentalists... The administration has failed to mount a vigorous defense of the health, safety and other benefits of regulation, she says...Heinzerling says the White House "appeared to make public health and welfare protections subservient to alleviation of regulatory costs." The White House should be doing more, she says, to teach the public about why regulations are needed and what the outcome would be if they were rolled back, including the cost in lives. "Cancers of all kinds, heart attacks, asthma attacks, and more are prevented by environmental rules," Heinzerling writes. The administration "could be saying more" about the "whole range of consequences that can flow" from a lack of regulation, she adds.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

AARP, take note: House Republicans revive "senior death discount" in effort to sidetrack EPA coal power plant cleanup

Well, we are coming down to the wire as coal power lobbyists and their congressional proxies are throwing virtually everything but the kitchen sink in an effort to delay EPA’s upcoming mercury and toxic pollution standards for electric power plants. The standards are due in mid-December and are currently under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget. The latest salvo came in a letter yesterday from Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD and a favorite of the coal mining lobby) and Paul Broun (R-GA – or in this case should that be R-Ga Power, a generous campaign contributor?). http://science.house.gov/letter/letter-sunstein The letter echoes some of the talking points spread around town by very clever coal power lobbyists, including those representing Georgia Power and its parent Southern Company (for instance, that EPA has inflated the health benefits of power plant cleanup and is “double counting” them). But the most bizarre portion of this letter revives the so-called “senior death discount” – a practice that would assign a lower value to the life of a senior citizen than someone younger. The prior Bush administration considered such an idea but then abandoned it after a public outcry and advertisements such as the one above. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0508-09.htm Harris and Broun revive this discredited idea. Perhaps this is an attempt to pander to OMB regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein, who has spoken favorably of the concept. http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/26/nation/na-sunstein26i Is AARP taking note? Beneath its highly legalistic veneer, this letter embodies a callous immorality by condemning EPA for trying to prevent the death and disease caused by coal power plant emissions. It is a pretty obvious effort to throw sand into the regulatory gears.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another labor vs enviro fight? Unions seek delay in EPA power plant toxic cleanup

With some still reeling by the decision over the Keystone XL pipeline, another labor vs. enviro battle may be shaping up. The White House OMB web site notes that union lobbyists visited OMB last week to discuss EPA’s upcoming mercury and toxic pollution cleanup standards for coal-fired power plants. EPA has said it intends to issue the standards by mid December. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/2060_meeting_11082011 The union reps brought along a copy of comments they filed earlier with EPA, urging delays in the cleanup timetable. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/oira_2060/2060_11082011-1.pdf There is evidence, by the way, that EPA has taken some heed of this. EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy recently said states should consider extending the three-year compliance window by a year. However, we do not expect EPA to follow another union request to delay the whole rule by six months to a year. (EPA did recently delay it by a month. As our friends with American Lung Association have noted, every month of delay equates to as many as 1,400 premature deaths, by EPA’s calculation.) Will he White House feel that it must now throw a bone to the unions, still smarting over the Keystone decision? We will be watching closely.

Beware of buying a lemon! Car dealers visit White House, with dreams of killing EPA, California authority over vehicle greenhouse gases

Of course, what they auto dealers DIDN'T say is that they want to kill off EPA and California authority over greenhouse gases precisely because those agencies have been effective and have moved the bar. The dealers obviously long for the old days when they could more easily influence the U.S. Department of Transportation.


http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/2060_meeting_11092011

Meeting Record
Meeting Record Regarding: CAFÉ/GHG Emissions
Date: 11 / 09 / 2011
Name Affiliation Client (if applicable)
Chandana Achanta OMB
David Regan National Auto Dealers Assoc.
David Wagmer NADA Used Car Guide
Rob Johansson CEA
Gary Guzy CEQ
Lori Stewart EPA
John MacNeil OMB/NRD
Drew McConville CEQ
Douglas Greenhaus National Auto Dealers Association
Andy Koblenz National Auto Dealers Association
Rich Theroux OMB
Odette Mucha OMB
Dom Mancini OMB/OIRA
Bill Charmley EPA
Michael Harrington NADA
Kevin Neyland OMB/OIRA


http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/oira_2060/2060_11092011-1.pdf

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rand Paul dirty-air plan gets clobbered in the Senate 41-56

Sen.Rand Paul's dirty-air resolution to nullify EPA's "good neighbor" pollution rule was clobbered today in the Senate, 41-56, as six Republican senators (Alexander-TN,Ayotte-NH,Brown-MA,Collins-ME, Kirk-IL and Snowe-ME) broke ranks to oppose his resolution. Here is the vote count: http://1.usa.gov/s9j4zX

Perhaps the high point of the debate was the floor speech by Senator Lamar Alexander, who denounced the plan, which he said would just mean more "dirty air" from Kentucky blowing into his state. Alexander said he "wants to see the Great Smoky Mountains, not the Great Smoggy Mountains."

Paul had little to say as a rejoinder except the mindless mantra about "job-killing" EPA coined by the polluter-funded Americans for Prosperity.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In his haste to help polluters, Sen. Joe Manchin of W VA gets the wrong Nelson

Check the first press release below with a revised version. This is legislation aimed at helping tax-dodging corporate polluters delay cleanup --at the expense of tens of thousands of premature deaths.

From: Press (Manchin) [mailto:Press@manchin.senate.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 10:40 AM
Subject: MANCHIN AND COATS INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN "FAIR COMPLIANCE ACT" TO PROTECT AMERICAN JOBS, PREVENT SPIKES IN ENERGY COSTS FOR CONSUMERS
For Immediate Release:
November 9, 2011
Contact: Emily Bittner
(202) 224-3954

MANCHIN AND COATS INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN “FAIR COMPLIANCE ACT” TO PROTECT AMERICAN JOBS, PREVENT SPIKES IN ENERGY COSTS FOR CONSUMERS

Commonsense bill would give utilities reasonable timelines with
benchmarks to comply with two EPA rules


Washington, D.C. – Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.) introduced the bipartisan “Fair Compliance Act” today to create reasonable timelines and benchmarks for utilities to comply with two major Environmental Protection Agency rules to protect jobs and keep utility rates stable. The legislation would extend the compliance deadline for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) by three years and the deadline for the Utility MACT rule by two years – so that both would fall on Jan. 1, 2017.

Additional cosponsors include Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

“I’ve always said government should be your partner, not your adversary – and that’s not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, it’s a commonsense idea,” Senator Manchin said. “With millions of jobs on the line in this country – and especially in my state of West Virginia – it just makes sense to work to make sure we don’t lose any more jobs in putting these rules in place. I’m proud to bring together Republicans and Democrats on this commonsense solution to a real problem.”

“The current EPA rules and unreasonable deadlines will be devastating for Hoosiers and every ratepayer in America,” Coats said. “After visiting with Indiana utilities and power plants, it is clear that the current EPA timeline will result in more job loss and skyrocketing rates. While I support a complete overturn of these rules, this bill is a bipartisan commonsense solution that gives states and utilities the time needed to plan and prepare.”

The National Economic Research Associates (NERA) estimates net employment losses of 1.44 million across the country as a result of the current EPA rules and deadlines. By 2016, NERA estimates that American ratepayers will see an average increase of 11.5 percent. In some regions of the United States, increases of up to 23.5 percent may occur.

Background:

The Utility MACT rule requires a decrease in mercury emissions at power plants. The CSAPR requires utilities to reduce power plant emissions that may cause air-quality complications in neighboring states.

The Manchin-Coats bill would provide utilities with an extension of time and synchronize the implementation schedule for complying with the rules. The bill would extend the date of compliance for Utility MACT by two years and for CSAPR by three years changing the deadline for both rules to January 1, 2017. Under the current EPA rules, the compliance date for Utility MACT is January 1, 2015. The deadline for Phase I of the CSAPR is January 1, 2012 and Phase II is January 1, 2014. The Manchin-Coats bill would postpone Phase I until January 1, 2015 and Phase II of CSAPR until January 1, 2017. The compliance date is the date by which a utility either must have installed emissions controls or retired the pant.

The bill also would require utilities to submit implementation plans to ensure compliance occurs. To safeguard the reliability of the electric grid and avoid brownouts, utilities would need to submit their implementation plans to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Please see the attached fact sheet for additional information.
**
________________________________________
From: DiJulio, Tara (Coats) [mailto:Tara_DiJulio@coats.senate.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 11:19 AM
To: DiJulio, Tara (Coats)
Subject: REVISED RELEASE: Manchin and Coats Introduce Bipartisan "Fair Compliance Act" to Protect American Jobs, Prevent Spikes in Energy Costs for Consumers
Please refer to this version of the release. Note: The bill is cosponsored by Senators Bob Corker and Ben Nelson.

For immediate release
November 9, 2011

Contact:
Emily Bittner (Manchin) 202-224-3954
Tara DiJulio (Coats) 202-224-5623


Manchin and Coats Introduce Bipartisan “Fair Compliance Act” to Protect American Jobs, Prevent Spikes in Energy Costs for Consumers

Commonsense bill would give utilities reasonable timelines with benchmarks to comply with two EPA rules


Washington, D.C. – Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.) introduced the bipartisan “Fair Compliance Act” today to create reasonable timelines and benchmarks for utilities to comply with two major Environmental Protection Agency to protect jobs and keep utility rates stable. The legislation would extend the compliance deadline for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) by three years and the deadline for the Utility MACT rule by two years – so that both would fall on January 1, 2017.

Additional cosponsors include Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

“I’ve always said government should be your partner, not your adversary – and that’s not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, it’s a commonsense idea,” Senator Manchin said. “With millions of jobs on the line in this country – and especially in my state of West Virginia – it just makes sense to work to make sure we don’t lose any more jobs in putting these rules in place. I’m proud to bring together Republicans and Democrats on this commonsense solution to a real problem.”

“The current EPA rules and unreasonable deadlines will be devastating for Hoosiers and every ratepayer in America,” Coats said. “After visiting with Indiana utilities and power plants, it is clear that the current EPA timeline will result in more job loss and skyrocketing rates. While I support a complete overturn of these rules, this bill is a bipartisan commonsense solution that gives states and utilities the time needed to plan and prepare.”

The National Economic Research Associates (NERA) estimates net employment losses of 1.44 million across the country as a result of the current EPA rules and deadlines. By 2016, NERA estimates that American ratepayers will see an average increase of 11.5 percent. In some regions of the United States, increases of up to 23.5 percent may occur.

Background:

The Utility MACT rule requires a decrease in mercury emissions at power plants. The CSAPR requires utilities to reduce power plant emissions that may cause air-quality complications in neighboring states.

The Manchin-Coats bill would provide utilities with an extension of time and synchronize the implementation schedule for complying with the rules. The bill would extend the date of compliance for Utility MACT by two years and for CSAPR by three years changing the deadline for both rules to January 1, 2017. Under the current EPA rules, the compliance date for Utility MACT is January 1, 2015. The deadline for Phase I of the CSAPR is January 1, 2012 and Phase II is January 1, 2014. The Manchin-Coats bill would postpone Phase I until January 1, 2015 and Phase II of CSAPR until January 1, 2017. The compliance date is the date by which a utility either must have installed emissions controls or retired the pant.

The bill also would require utilities to submit implementation plans to ensure compliance occurs. To safeguard the reliability of the electric grid and avoid brownouts, utilities would need to submit their implementation plans to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Click here for a copy of the legislation.
Click here for a fact sheet with additional information.