Friday, July 29, 2011

What our friends at the Safe Climate Campaign say about new fuel economy deal

Dan Becker
Director, Safe Climate Campaign
Contact: Dan Becker
For Immediate Release

Statement On The Obama Administration’s Emissions And Mileage Standards

While the president’s proposal is a significant acceleration in the fight against global warming and oil addiction, it was weakened by auto industry lobbying.
Automakers have seeded it with loopholes that weaken the oil, pollution and gas-pump savings.

Specifically, automakers demanded and won standards that are weaker for trucks than for cars and even weaker for large pick-ups. They got credits for air conditioning, electric vehicles and even something called “active transmission warm-up.”

An auto industry that owes its survival to taxpayer bailouts ungratefully flouted the public’s demand for fuel efficiency and less pollution, fighting for loopholes until the bitter end. We will use every opportunity, including the mid-term review that the automakers demanded, to strengthen the standards.

In the year before these new standards become final, we call on the Obama administration to close the loopholes, and on the auto industry to make greater use of technology, to tamp down emissions and improve mileage. That is the only way we will begin to fight our oil addiction, spend less at the pump, clean up our atmosphere and help make the American auto industry competitive in the global market.

The Union of Concerned Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council estimate that in 2030 the standards will save as much as:

280 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent,
1.5 million Barrels per day of gasoline,
$80 billion at the gas pump.

# # #

The Safe Climate Campaign is an environmental organization that advocates strong measures to fight global warming.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

EPA proposes new air standards for "fracking" -- standards that will save industry money

For an agency that is frequently attacked as "job killing," this new EPA proposal should make people sit up and take note.

EPA has proposed new clean air requirements that not only would reduce pollution but save industry money!

These are proposed air standards for "fracking" and related oil and gas extraction activities.

As EPA notes:

An estimated 11,400 new wells are fractured each year; another 14,000 are re-fractured to stimulate production or to produce natural gas from a different production zone.

As you may know, gas extraction is causing new smog problems in places like Wyoming and Utah that historically were pretty "clean."

EPA's proposal would

cut smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by nearly one-fourth across the oil and gas industry, including a nearly 95 percent reduction in VOCs emitted from new and modified hydraulically fractured gas wells. This significant reduction would be accomplished primarily through use of a proven technology to capture natural gas that currently escapes to the air. That gas would then be made available for sale.

The estimated revenues from selling the gas that currently goes to waste are significant – so much so that today’s proposed rule is anticipated to quickly result in a net savings of nearly $30 million annually, while significantly reducing pollution from this expanding industry.

I wonder if any of EPA's critics will now say something nice about the agency?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Big oil plans new assault on smog standard with ad campaign, etc

Below is an item making the rounds of the DC press corps. The oil industry is planning a new phase of its propaganda campaign against EPA setting national smog standards that might actually be based on science and protect people's health.

According to this advisory, the American Petroleum Institute will unveil a new "study" which undoubtedly will exaggerate the cost of meeting tougher new smog standards. (The industry has a 40-year track record of being dead wrong about the costs of clean air controls.)

And a new "ad campaign." Undoubtedly more mindless propaganda. Somehow I doubt the ad campaign will talk about industry's pretty healthy profits. (Conoco Phillips just reported healthy earnings today.)

The Obama administration has shown weakness on this. And the oil companies obviously believe they can exploit that.


API releases new study on EPA’s ozone NAAQS regulations ahead of meeting
with White House officials

Conference call with reporters on Thursday, July 28, at 10:00 am Please join API officials for a press conference call prior to a meeting on EPA’s ozone NAAQS regulations between API and The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Dr. Anne E. Smith, an economist with NERA Economic Consulting, will present the results of a new study challenging EPA’s cost benefit analysis for the proposed ozone rule. API will comment on the most recent delay in the EPA final rule and also announce a new ad campaign going into the final days of the ozone NAAQS debate.
There will also be a question and answer session.
What: Conference call on EPA’s ozone NAAQS regulations

Who: Howard Feldman, API director of scientific and regulatory policy
Khary Cauthen, API director of government affairs
Anne Smith, senior vice president of NERA Economic Consulting

When: Thursday, July 28, 2011

10:00 am ET

Phone: (800) 374-2418
Conference ID: 869 95 212

Please RSVP by replying to or by calling API media relations at 202-682-8114.

This call is open to credentialed media only.

Rick Perry take note: utility analyst reports Texas can meet cross-state pollution rule simply by running scrubbers more!

As you may recall, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was among those loudly attacking the recent EPA “cross-state” pollution rule designed to reduce drifting power plant pollution. “Heavy-handed and misguided” is how the potential presidential candidate described it.

But now it appears that Perry himself may have been misguided – and certainly heavy-handed.

A new research report by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. concludes that Texas could comply with the standards simply by turning on existing scrubbers! See highlights below.

It now appears as if the complaints by Perry and other Texas officials were ill-informed to say the least. It’s a classic case of industry-generated hysteria without a basis in fact.

Industry has whipped up the same kind of hysteria about EPA’s upcoming smog decision. This case study should be a lesson.

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.,

U.S. Utilities: Can Texas Comply With The Cross-State Air
Pollution Rule? Yes, If Existing Scrubbers Are Turned On
U.S. Utilities
July 20, 2011
Hugh Wynne (Senior Analyst) • • +1-212-823-2692

• On July 7th, 2011, the EPA published the final version of its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), a regulation that will cap the annual emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from power plants in 23 eastern states, and set limits on summer emissions of NOx in an additional five states. The states covered by CSAPR account for over three quarters of U.S. coal fired generation.

• The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule finalizes regulations issued in draft form on July 6, 2010. The EPA's draft regulation was entitled the Clean Air Transport Rule (CATR). While CSAPR imposes annual SO2 and NOx emissions limits on Texas, CATR did not.

• After the release of the rule, Texas' utilities, regulator and politicians, as well as sell-side analysts on Wall Street, claimed that the rule could potentially cause widespread retirements and costly upgrades.  Energy Future Holdings warned investors that due to CSAPR it would "likely incur material capital expenditures and operating costs and experience material revenue decreases due to reduced generation."

 Bryan Shaw, Chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, argued that, "This rule
will impose great costs on coal-fired power plants, causing some to shut down or curtail operations, threatening the state's electrical capacity reserve margins needed to avoid power disruption during times of peak demand."

 On Wall Street, sell-side analysts calculated that CSAPR puts 4.6 GW of lignite coal-fired capacity in Texas at risk of retirement.

• The EPA, by contrast, contends that in formulating CSAPR it set the 2012 SO2 budget for Texas at a level that can be achieved simply through the continuous use of existing flue gas desulfurization equipment.

• In this research note, we analyze the potential for the state of Texas to comply with CSAPR without costly upgrades or plant closures.

 We have analyzed the hourly SO2 emissions rate for each coal fired unit in Texas that is equipped with an SO2 scrubber. By plotting the distribution of these hourly emissions rates, we have determined the number of hours that each scrubber is in operation. We then assessed the impact on SO2 emissions of running these existing scrubbers continuously.

 We also assessed the emissions reductions potentially achievable by coal fired units that currently lack SO2 scrubbers. Specifically, we determine the level of SO2 emissions these units have historically achieved when burning lower sulfur coal.

• We find that if coal fired generating units in Texas were to run their existing scrubbers continuously, and if unscrubbed units were to achieve the SO2 emissions rates they have historically when burning lower sulfur coal, the state of Texas could likely comply with its SO2 budget under CSAPR in 2012.

Investment Conclusion

In this research note, we analyze the potential for the state of Texas to comply with CSAPR without costly upgrades or plant closures. We find that if Texas utilities were simply to run their existing scrubbers continuously, and switch unscrubbed units to lower sulfur coal, Texas could likely comply with its SO2 budget under CSAPR in 2012.

Individual Texas utilities, however, may find that under these circumstances their 2012 emissions of SO2 may exceed their allocation under CSAPR of SO2 allowances. We have therefore analyzed the impact on individual utilities of the need to purchase (or the opportunity to sell) SO2 emission allowances, assuming a price per ton of $700, as per the EPA's modeling.

Our analysis suggests that Energy Future Holdings would be required to buy SO2 allowances to cover its emissions, resulting in an incremental annual cost of $15 million. We calculate that Xcel Energy (XEL) would be required to spend $7 million to buy the required allowances.
We note that Xcel Energy (XEL), as a regulated utility, could pass through this cost to its customers, while Energy Future Holdings, as a competitive generator, would see its after-tax earnings reduced by an estimated $10 million annually.

On the other hand, NRG Energy (NRG) would likely benefit from the sale of excess SO2 allowances,
potentially adding $5 million to annual revenues. We calculate that American Electric Power (AEP) might also have an excess of allowances, worth $1 million annually to the company.

New York Times editorial: President Obama should support EPA on smog decision

A Decision for Clean Air

Published: July 27, 2011

Federal mandates under the 1970 Clean Air Act have produced cleaner cars, fuels and factories, significantly improving the air Americans breathe. Yet the underlying standards setting limits on ground-level ozone, the main component of harmful smog, have remained unchanged since 1997 - even as science has made it abundantly clear that the standard is still not strong enough to protect public health.

The Environmental Protection Agency has drawn up new and tighter rules, but the final decision rests with President Obama. The White House is under relentless pressure from industry and some legislators to keep the current rules. Mr. Obama should support the agency.

The new rules would force large sections of the country to produce new cleanup plans to reduce pollution, requiring new investment in cleaner power plants and factories. "This is a jobs election. These are job killers," John Engler, the former Michigan governor, said last week as he and his colleagues on the Business Roundtable pressed their case with the White House.

Mr. Engler is wrong. Costs almost always turn out to be more manageable than industry forecasts, and new investments can mean more jobs, not fewer. The main issue is health, not jobs. The E.P.A. has a clear obligation under the law (reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in 2001) to set standards protecting public health "with an adequate margin of safety," based on the latest science.

The current ozone standards - 80 parts per billion - were set in 1997 by Carol Browner, then President Bill Clinton's E.P.A. administrator, after a similarly ferocious battle with industry. It was the best Ms. Browner could get at the time. Within a decade, new research showed that harmful respiratory effects occur at much lower levels. Experts began calling for a much more protective standard of between 60 parts to 70 parts per billion.

True to its practice of ignoring politically inconvenient science, the administration of George W. Bush set the standard at 75 parts per billion in 2008. This was immediately challenged in court by public health groups. Lisa Jackson, the current E.P.A. administrator, has now asked the White House to let her set the standard between 60 parts and 70 parts per billion, consistent with the science. Setting the number at the lower end of the range would obviously do the most good.

The White House is nervous about critics who claim that that E.P.A. is issuing too many new rules - on greenhouse gases, fuel economy standards and toxic pollutants like mercury. All of these rules are overdue, and protecting the environment and public health is the agency's job. President Obama cannot allow politics to trump science.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Senator Carper to EPA: "Move Quickly" on smog standard

FOR RELEASE: July 26, 2011
CONTACT: Emily Spain (202) 224-2441

Sen. Carper Responds to Senate Letter to EPA Regarding Air Quality Standard; Reacts to EPA Decision to Delay Standard's Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air, responded to a Senate letter urging the U.S. Environmental and Protection Agency (EPA) to not finalize its proposed air quality standards for ground level ozone. He also responded to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's decision to delay the release of the new air quality standard. Sen. Carper's statement follows:

"Our current ozone standard was put into place in 1997 and is outdated, ineffective and inadequate. Both the Bush and the Obama Administrations have concluded that this standard fails to sufficiently protect public health. Failing to update this ozone standard would continue to leave thousands of Delawareans – and millions of Americans – vulnerable to the harmful effects of ozone air pollution. Failing to update the ozone standard also creates challenges for states. This outdated standard leaves states in limbo about what requirements they need to meet and forces states to continue to postpone the significant decisions that need to be made to clean up our air.

"EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has told me and others that the pending lawsuit brought by 14 states and other environmental groups was too strong for her agency to fight. Instead of wasting taxpayer resources to fight a lawsuit, the EPA has worked with the courts and the petitioners on a time line for a new rule. Both the petitioners and courts have been very lenient in giving the agency additional time to finalize the ozone standard. Failure to finalize this standard would likely result in the EPA being quickly and successfully sued, which would take away the agency's ability to work with states to give them the flexibility they need to meet these requirements. The lawsuit will also likely require tighter timetables for implementation.

"I do not believe that we can continue to delay on this matter. I urge the EPA to move quickly to finalize its plans for the new ozone air quality standard so that our nation can finally move forward to make the ozone reductions we need to achieve cleaner, healthier air."


American Lung Assn. assails "untenable" latest smog decision delay by Obama Administration

July 26, 2011 202-715-3459

President Obama’s Decision to Miss the Health Standard
Deadline is Untenable

Fourth Delay of Lifesaving Smog Standard Means Millions of People Must Breathe Dangerous Levels of Deadly Pollutant With No Relief In Sight

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

Washington, DC. (July 26, 2011) -- The American Lung Association is gravely disappointed President Obama will not complete the national air quality standard for ozone, or smog by the July 29 deadline. Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an unwarranted fourth delay in a year for that lifesaving clean air standard. This untenable delay means more will get sick and more will die. There is no possible acceptable excuse for this decision.

This past summer has seen day after day of unhealthy levels of the nation’s most widespread and one of the most dangerous air pollutants. Delay in setting the standard mean delay in putting clean-up measures in place that can reduce ozone and protect the health of millions of people.
Ozone air pollution causes premature death, asthma attacks, and difficulty breathing. Ozone can send people with lung disease, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to the emergency room and the hospital. The public has a right to know when the level of air pollution in their community can harm their health. An American Lung Association poll shows that the public strongly supports and expects the EPA to set the health standard for ozone smog.

Big corporate polluters and some in Congress have placed intense pressure on the White House, trying to weaken the standard or to ignore the Clean Air Act. We urge the President to recognize that the polluters’ tired and discredited arguments are no more valid now than they were when they first trotted them out decades ago. Protecting public health is the central tenet of the Clean Air Act. We urge the adoption of the strongest, most protective ozone standard under consideration: 60 parts per billion.

The Clean Air Act requires the establishment of a national air quality standard that defines the limit on the amount of ozone pollution that can be in the air nationwide. In 2008, the American Lung Association and others filed litigation in federal court on the inadequate and unlawful ozone standard set by the Bush Administration. We are again exploring with counsel our legal options.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

White House begins review of national air standards for carbon monoxide

Here is an item perhaps lost in the shuffle over big polluter opposition to any strengthening of national clean air standards for ozone, or smog:

The White House Office of Management and Budget has also begun reviewing a final EPA decision on national clean air standard for another widespread pollutant – carbon monoxide -- a pollutant deadly at high levels. (It is so toxic that the ancient Greeks and Romans used it to execute people.)

As you may recall, EPA’s science advisers urged the agency to set tougher new national outdoor air standards for this pollutant.$File/EPA-CASAC-10-013-unsigned.pdf

The scientists noted that air pollution levels of carbon monoxide have dropped over time (thanks largely to catalytic converters on cars). But they still urged tougher standards that reflect modern research.

But the EPA proposed in February to keep existing standards.

Public health experts have testified that EPA’s proposal blew it – and that agency should set tougher clean air standards.

Friday, July 22, 2011

DC hits "Code Red"... as polluters seek House help to cripple new smog standards

At the very least, it is an irony of timing.

As you may be aware, our nation’s capital is under a “code red” smog alert today because of the continued heat and stagnant air. Check EPA’s official forecast for the day:

(By the way, “Code Red” means the air is REALLY bad!. A “Code Orange” alert means the air violates the Bush administration’s smog standard, which is under official review because it is scientifically inadequate. No wonder there are reports of increased hospital admissions. As CBS Evening News reported last night, not only are more people heading to emergency rooms, they are sicker because of the filthy air.)

The polluters picked this very day to make a pitch to key House Republicans to kill EPA’s attempt to set new standards based on sound science. As Politico Morning Energy notes today:

Industry representatives are slated to meet Friday with E&C chairman Fred Upton and his deputy on energy issues, Ed Whitfield, to discuss the EPA's ozone standard, according to industry groups. The American Petroleum Institute requested the meeting and invited the same groups that met last week with EPA chief Lisa Jackson on the issue, including the American Chemistry Council, the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Petrochemical Refiners Association and the National Oilseed Processing Association.
Upton, Whitfield and friends are already seeking to delay cleanup of smog-producing coal-fired power plants.

Will they now try to meddle in the science of smog in order to help out industry buddies? We hope they stand down and let EPA set standards based on science, as we and many other groups noted yesterday in our letter to President Obama.

A final note, for now: do you think the polluter big-wigs will share a cab to this meeting to cut down on smog-producing emissions?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hundreds of health and environmental groups urge President Obama to let EPA set a strong smog standard

An Open Letter to President Obama from
Groups Protecting Public Health

July 21, 2011

Dear Mr. President:

The undersigned organizations and our members and supporters – representing the health,medical, consumer, faith, community-based, environmental -communities – urge you to protect public health and the environment by supporting more protective standards forground-level ozone (smog).
Ozone, the primary component of smog, is the nation’s most pervasive air pollutant. Millions of Americans live in areas where the air pollution exceeds the levels where adverse health effects

Studies show that on days with elevated levels of ozone pollution, people suffer more asthma attacks, increased respiratory difficulty, and reduced lung function. Ozone even causes premature death. The effects are worse for sensitive populations including children, the
elderly, and people with asthma and other respiratory illness.

We call for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone at the most protective end of the range recommended by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), and a secondary standard sufficient to protect
forests and plants throughout the nation from ozone damage as recommended by CASAC and the National Park Service. These standards, based on health science, are required to be set at a level that protects public health with an adequate margin of safety.

After extensive review, CASAC on March 30, 2011, unanimously advised EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that the scientific evidence strongly supports a new primary ozone standard. The EPA estimates that setting a standard at the lower end of the range recommended by CASAC would save over 10,000 lives annually.

Throughout the years, the Clean Air Act has built a solid science and health foundation, making it one of the nation’s most effective public health laws. By saving millions of lives, avoiding millions of cases of pollution-related illness, and preventing millions of lost work
days, the Clean Air Act has also been an economic success story. The total benefits of the Clean Air Act between 1990 and 2010 exceeded total costs by an estimated 35 to 1.

Efforts to reduce ground-level ozone concentrations have also been successful, with levels declining in many cities, including Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Houston and Milwaukee over the last decade. But millions of Americans including children, the elderly and people of
color are still regularly exposed to smog levels that are unhealthy; as a result hundreds of thousands more are sick and tens of thousands die.

Now that the science is clear that the standards for ground-level ozone must be much tighter in order to protect public health, EPA has an obligation to follow the science. The agency should do so promptly by mid-summer as promised, in order to start the long overdue process
of delivering clean air to the American people.We urge you to act now and support truly protective ozone standards.


American Lung Association in Alabama
Cahaba Riverkeeper
Children's Environmental Protection
Alliance and Community Forums
American Lung Association in Alaska
GillepsieHall Health and Wellness
Western Resource Advocates
American Lung Association in Arizona
Arizona Asthma Coalition
Arizona PIRG (Arizona Public Interest
Research Group)
American Lung Association in Arkansas
American Lung Association in California
California Public Health Association-North
California Thoracic Society
Center for Biological Diversity
Citizen's Coalition for a Safe Community
Coalition for Clean Air
COFEM - Consejo de Federaciones
East Yard Communities for Environmental
Energy Independence Now
Environmental Law Foundation
Healthy Child Healthy World
Loma Linda University School of Medicine,
Division of Neonatology
Mercy Center for Lung and Esophageal
Physicians for Social
Rose Foundation for Communities and the
SF-Bay Area Physicians for Social
San Francisco Asthma Task Force
Siskiyou County Public Health Dept.
American Lung Association in Colorado
Colorado Environmental Coalition
Colorado Conservation Voters
National Environmental Health Association
American Lung Association in Connecticut
The Great Land Conservation Trust
American Lung Association in Delaware
Pulmonary Associates, Newark Delaware
District of Columbia
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Heart Association
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Heart Association
American Lung Association in the District
of Columbia
American Public Health Association
American Thoracic Society
Clean Air Watch
Clean Water Action
Community Action Partnership
Earth Justice
Energy Action Coalition
Environment America
Environmental Defense Fund
ENE (Environment Northeast)
Friends Committee on National Legislation
League of Conservation Voters
National Association of County & City
Health Officials
National Hispanic Environmental Council
Natural Resources Defense Council
Outdoor Alliance
Sierra Club
US Climate Action Network
American Lung Association in Florida
Common Ground for Conservation
Voces Verdes
American Lung Association in Georgia
Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
Citizens for Progressive Transit
Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda
Earth Covenant Ministry
Environmental Community Action Inc
Environment Georgia
GEORGIA Women's Action for New
Mothers & Others for Clean Air
American Lung Association in Hawaii
American Lung Association in Idaho
Climate Solutions
American Lung Association in Illinois
Citizens Against Ruining the Environment
Doctors Council SEIU
Easter Seals
Eco-Justice Collaborative
Environment Illinois
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition
Respiratory Health Association of
Metropolitan Chicago
Southeast Environmental Task Force
American Lung Association in Indiana
Indiana Toxics Action Project
Save the Valley
Valley Watch, Inc.
American Lung Association in Iowa
Iowa Environmental Council
American Lung Association in Kansas
American Lung Association in Kentucky
American Lung Association in Louisiana
Louisiana Bucket Brigade
American Lung Association in Maine
Bangor Area Public Health Advisory Board
Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition
The Choose To Be Healthy Partnership
Friends of Acadia
Healthy Aroostook
Healthy Communities of the Capital Area
Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine
Lamey-Wellehan Shoes
Maine Medical Association
Maine People's Alliance
Maine Public Health Association
Piscataquis Public Health Council
American Lung Association in Maryland
Crabshell Alliance
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Chesapeake Physicians for Social
Playworkz Learning Centers
American Lung Association in
Environment Massachusetts
Conservation Law Foundation
MA Association for School-Based Health
Care, Inc.
Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition
Union of Concerned Scientists
American Lung Association in Michigan
Great Lakes Environmental Law Center
Saginaw Black Nurses Association
The West Michigan Environmental Action
Tri-County Asthma Coalition
American Lung Association in Minnesota
Environment Minnesota
Will Steger Foundation
American Lung Association in Mississippi
American Lung Association in Missouri
Environment Missouri
Concerned Citizens of Perryville
StraightUp Solar
American Lung Association in Montana
Citizens for a Better Flathead
Climate Solutions
Montana Audubon
Montana Association of Cardiac and
Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Montana Conservation Voters
Montana Environmental Information Center
Montana League of Women Voters
Montana Nurses Association
Montana Public Health Association
Park County Environmental Council
American Lung Association in Nebraska
American Lung Association in Nevada
New Hampshire
American Lung Association in New
Appalachian Mountain Club
Children's Alliance of New Hampshire
Green New Hampshire Audubon
New Jersey
American Lung Association in New Jersey
Environment New Jersey
New Jersey YMCA State Alliance
New Mexico
American Lung Association in New Mexico
Environment New Mexico
WildEarth Guardians
New York
Adirondack Mountain Club
American Lung Association in New York
Clean Air Coalition of Western New York
Environmental Advocates of New York
Environment New York
Haven of Hope Foundation Inc.
Healthy Schools Network
New York City Environmental Justice
New York State Thoracic Society
Pace Energy and Climate Center
Renewable Energy Long Island
Transportation Alternatives
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
US Environmental Watch
North Carolina
American Lung Association in North
Clean Air Carolina
Cleveland County Asthma Coalition;
Shelby, NC
NC Conservation Network
NC League of Conservation Voters
Pitt County Memorial Hospital
R D Coates & Assoc
Western North Carolina Alliance
North Dakota
American Lung Association in North Dakota
Presentation Sisters
American Lung Association in Ohio
Energy Action Coalition
Environmental Health Watch
Environment Ohio
Ohio Environmental Council
Ohio Interfaith Power and Light
Ohio Public Health Association
Silvertip Productions, Ltd.
American Lung Association in Oklahoma
American Lung Association in Oregon
Climate Solutions
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns, A
Program of
Northwest Environmental Defense Center
Allergy Asthma and Immunology Section of
Penn State University
American Lung Association in Pennsylvania
The Center for the Celebration of Creation
Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future
Clean Air Council
Conservation Consultants, Inc.
Group Against Smog and Pollution
Healthy Communities Partnership of
Greater Franklin County
Health Educators for Cultural Diversity
InRegion Sustainability Consulting LLC
Mission Incorporated
Northwest Pennsylvania Green Economy
Taskforce (NWPAGE)
PA Public Health Association
Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse
Philadelphia Physicians for Social
Sadler Health Center Corp
Students for Environmental Action
United Steelworkers Local 404
Veterinary Medical Specialists of
Pittsburgh, Inc.
Women for a Healthy Environment
Rhode Island
American Lung Association in Rhode Island
Environmental Justice League of Rhode
Childhood Lead Action Project
Rhode Island State Nurses Association
South Carolina
American Lung Association in South
Conservation Voters of South Carolina
South Dakota
American Lung Association in South
American Lung Association in Tennessee
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
American Lung Association in Texas
Downwinders at Risk
Environment Texas
Flower Mound Shares
Health Professionals for Clean Air
Trinity- First Weekday Ministries
American Lung Association in Utah
Breathe Utah
Utah Chapter of the American Academy of
Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club
Utah Moms for Clean Air
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment
Wasatch Clean Air Coalition
American Lung Association in Vermont
Idle-Free VT Inc.
Vermont Public Health Association
Vermont Public Interest Research Group
American Lung Association in Virginia
Health Care Without Harm
American Lung Association in Washington
Climate Solutions
Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith
Power & Light
Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological
Washington Asthma Initiative
West Virginia
American Lung Association in West Virginia
American Lung Association in Wisconsin
American Lung Association of Wyoming
Midwest Environmental Advocates
Saving Our Air Resource
Wisconsin Environment
Wisconsin Asthma Coalition

Friday, July 15, 2011

Business Roundtable ramps up eleventh-hour scare campaign against EPA smog standard

It should come as no surprise that the Business Roundtable is ramping up an eleventh-hour scare campaign in an effort to block tougher national air standards for ozone, or smog. See the hysterical e-mail below. As one of my friends put it, “lires and damned lies.”

(I guess the timing is no surprise as EPA Administrator Lisa Johnson is scheduled to sit down today with big business execs. It is interesting to note that this attack on EPA was sent not to Jackson, but to White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley. Really dirty pool to do this, don’t you think?)

A couple of quick rejoinders: There is no way the EPA standard would cost anywhere near a trillion dollars. Anyone want to bet on it?

And, no, the EPA action is not discretionary. The Bush administration ignored EPA’s science advisers as it caved in to the Business Roundtable and its ilk. As Jackson noted in a letter this week to Senator Carper, that standard was not based on science and so it was obviously illegal. EPA is only trying to fix the Bush mess in accordance with the law.

It’s no surprise the Business Roundtable wants to delay a decision until 2013. I’m sure most of its members are hoping the President in 2013 is named something other than Obama.

Daley ought to busy himself with other matters and not fall for this all-too-obvious ploy.


From: Larry Burton []
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2011 10:56 AM
Subject: New Ozone Regulation Could Cost Nearly $1 Trillion Over Ten Years

Share This:

July 15, 2011

New Ozone Regulation Could Cost Nearly $1 Trillion Over Ten Years

U.S. Business Leaders Say ‘Single Most Expensive Environmental Regulation Ever Imposed on the U.S. Economy’ Threatens Job Creation, Economic Recovery

In a letter delivered today to President Obama’s Chief of Staff, William Daley, Andrew Liveris, Chairman & CEO of The Dow Chemical Company, writing on behalf of Business Roundtable, said:
• “…[E]stimated by EPA to cost anywhere between $20 and $90 billion annually…the ozone rule…threatens to seriously impede economic expansion by classifying literally hundreds of counties across the United States as nonattainment for ozone for the first time.”
• “…[T]hese counties risk losing jobs when businesses respond to the higher costs and uncertainty by closing marginal facilities and siting new facilities elsewhere, including outside the U.S.”
• “…[T]he ozone [regulation]…is discretionary and is not required by statute or court order.”
• “The next scheduled statutory review of the ozone standard is in 2013 and the scientific panel convened by EPA to review the latest scientific evidence is already half way through their work.”
• “We…urge the Administration to let this panel complete its work and recommend in 2013 whether the ozone standard should be changed.”

Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with nearly $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 13 million employees. BRT member companies comprise nearly a third of the total value of the U.S. stock market and invest more than $114 billion annually in research and development – nearly half of all private U.S. R&D spending. Our companies pay more than $179 billion in dividends to shareholders.

BRT companies give nearly $9 billion a year in combined charitable contributions.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Public health groups protest what appears to be AEP ghostwritten resolution for utility regulatory commissioners

As you may know, battles over clean air often take place over a number of battlefields.

You will recall that American Electric Power, one of the dirtiest and most recalcitrant of the nation's power companies, has tried in vain to enlist Senate sponsors of a bill AEP wrote to delay vital EPA clean air standards for coal-fired power plants.

Now AEP appears to be trying to score on a different battlefield -- next week's summer meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Los Angeles.

A utility commissioner from West Virginia (where AEP is influential),Jon McKinney, is sponsoring a resolution that seems to have come right out of the old AEP word processor.

Once you wade through all the "Whearases," you can see the game here is to get NARUC to endorse a scheme to permit dirty power companies to delay compliance with EPA clean air requirements, including its recent Cross-State Pollution Rule and its upcoming plan to limit mercury and toxic emissions from power plants. AEP obviously thinks an endorsement from NARUC would bolster its case in Congress. The resolution is quite explicit on this point.

Public health groups, having gotten wind of this dirty air-ploy, are protesting vociferously. A letter from public health groups is directly below, followed by the suggested dirty-air resolution:

American Lung Association
American Public Health Association
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Trust for America’s Health

July 14, 2011

Chuck Gray,
Executive Director
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
1101 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Mr. Gray:
On behalf of the undersigned public health and medical organizations, we write to express our strong opposition to Resolution EL-3: Promoting Congressional Action for Increased Flexibility for the Implementation of EPA Rulemakings. Without question, this resolution will
delay improvements in public health and hinder the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ability to implement the Clean Air Act.

During your deliberations next week, we ask that you take into account the tremendous public health costs associated with fossil-fuel power plants. The regulations that the EPA has recently finalized and proposed are years overdue. In the case of the Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics proposal, the standards for these plants are nearly 20-years past due. The updated
standards that EPA is implementing are designed to protect public health and reduce health care costs for all by preventing thousands of adverse health outcomes, including: cancer, asthma attacks, strokes, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and premature deaths.

The recently finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will improve air quality for more than half of the states. This rule will save up to 34,000 lives each year and prevent over 400,000 asthma attacks, 19,000 admissions to the hospital or emergency department and 15,000 nonfatal heart

Implementation of and compliance with the proposed Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Rule will result in the annual prevention of approximately: 17,000 premature deaths; 11,000 heart attacks; 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms; 12,000 hospitalizations and emergency room visits; and 11,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children.

Congress first required EPA to clean up toxic air pollution from industries in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Coal-using electric utilities have successfully delayed having to comply since then. It is time for these plants to get clean and for public health gains to be realized.

We ask you to support full implementation of the Clean Air Act and resist any efforts to weaken,delay or block progress toward the continued implementation of this vital law. We urge you to reject EL 3 and stand up for public health.

Thank you for considering our position. Should you want to discuss our position in greater detail, please do not hesitate to contact Peter Iwanowicz of the American Lung Association at (202) 785-3355.

American Lung Association
American Public Health Association
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Trust for America’s Health

cc: Garry Brown, Chair of the Electricity Committee
Jeanne M. Fox, Chair of the Energy Resource and the Environment Committee
Timothy A. Simon, Chair Natural Gas Committee

[and here is the resolution noted above:]

EL-3 Resolution on Promoting Congressional Action for Increased Flexibility for the Implementation of EPA Rulemakings WHEREAS, The Board of Directors of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) adopted a resolution on the Role of State Regulatory Policies in the
Development of Federal Environmental Regulations on February 16, 2011; including the following statements

! WHEREAS, NARUC at this time takes no position regarding the merits of these EPA rulemakings; and ! WHEREAS, Such regulations under consideration by EPA could pose significant challenges for the electric power sector and the State Regulatory Commissions with respect to the economic burden, the feasibility of implementation by the contemplated deadlines and the maintenance of system reliability; and
! WHEREAS, NARUC recognizes that a reliable energy supply is vital to support the nation’s future economic growth, security, and quality of life; and WHEREAS, NARUC wishes to continue to advance the policies set forth in the resolution as it relates to the proposed EPA rulemakings concerning the interstate transport of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, cooling water intake, emissions of hazardous air pollutants and greenhouse gases, release of toxic and thermal pollution into waterways, and management of coal
combustion solids; and WHEREAS, The EPA may not have the flexibility to modify timelines, due to court set deadlines, to allow cost-effective phase-in of rulemakings; and WHEREAS, Typically, a retrofit timeline for multimillion dollar projects is 6+ years, considering that the retrofit projects will need to be designed to address compliance with
multiple regulatory requirements at the same time and requiring six distinct steps: Certificate of Convenience & Necessity, front end engineering, environmental permitting, detailed engineering, construction and startup; and WHEREAS, Timelines will also lengthened by the large number of multimillion dollar projects that will be in competition for the same skilled labor and resources; and WHEREAS, NARUC recognizes that greater flexibility with the implementation of EPA regulations can lessen generation cost increases because of improved planning, selection of
correct design for the resolution of multiple requirements, and orderly decision making; and
WHEREAS, Many current generators that will be shutdown or repowered due to the new EPA rulemakings are located in constrained areas or supply constrained areas and will need time to allow for transmission or new generation studies to resolve reliability issues; and WHEREAS, NERC and regional RTO’s will need time to study reliability issues associated
with shutdown or repowering of generation; and WHEREAS, NARUC recognizes that greater flexibility will allow time for these needed studies,
now, therefore be it RESOLVED, That the Board of Directors of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, convened at its 2011 Summer Committee Meetings in Los Angeles, California, supports efforts to promote State and federal environmental and energy policies that will enhance the reliability of the nation’s energy supply and minimize cost impacts to consumers by: ! Allowing utilities to coordinate the closure and/or retrofitting of existing electric generating units in an orderly manner that will ensure the continued supply of electricity
and that will allow power generators to upgrade their facilities in the most cost effective way, while at the same time achieving attainable efficiency gains and environmental compliance; and ! Allowing off-ramp for units that commit to retire or repower through 2020; and
! Allowing a phasing-in of the EPA regulation requirements between 2015-2020; and ! Establishing benchmarks, beginning in 2012, that ensure an orderly, cost effective compliance with the EPA regulation requirements,
and thereby, continuing emission reduction progress, but reducing capital costs, rate shock and other economic impacts while still providing that coal-fired units are “well controlled” by 2020; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the United States Congress, which represents the interests of the States individually and collectively, should enact legislation requiring the EPA to promulgate regulations reflecting the timeline and efficiencies embodied in this resolution to ensure the
reliability of the nation’s energy supply and balance economic growth, energy security, and environmental protection.
Sponsored by the Subcommittee on Clean Coal and Carbon Sequestration
and the Committee on Electricity
Adopted by the NARUC Board of Directors July xx, 2011

New report argues EPA underestimated benefits of utility mercury/toxic cleanup plan

A good item out today from our friends with the Clean Air Council in Philadelphia:

New Study Uncovers Additional $10.5 Billion in Annual Benefits and Nearly 80,000 More Jobs from EPA’s Proposed Utility Toxics Rule

Delay Will Impose Billions of Pollution-related Costs on Businesses and Delay Investment in New Generation Resources

July 14, 2011 –Washington, DC – A study issued today finds that the benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Utility Toxics Rule (also known as the Utility MACT) are even greater than found in the conservative analysis done by the Agency.

The report, "Why EPA’s Mercury and Toxics Rule is Good for the Economy and America’s Workforce," authored by Charles J. Cicchetti Ph.D, a senior advisor to Navigant Consulting, Inc., finds that the Utility Toxics Rule will produce net benefits of up to $139.5 billion and create 115,520 jobs. The report shows that while the EPA’s benefit-cost analysis made reasonable calculations of the benefits of hazardous air pollutant (HAP) reductions, the Rule brings additional benefits that EPA did not monetize but should be considered.

"Although the EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis already shows that the benefits of the proposed Toxics Rule dwarf its costs, I found that it also overestimates compliance costs, contrary to the claims of those calling for additional study and delay," said Cicchetti. "In my analysis of both the Toxics Rule and what is now being called the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, I have identified a combined additional $16.5 billion in annual benefits to help the economy recover, including additional labor cost savings from avoided lost work days, reduced health and insurance costs, and increased employment."

Report findings on the Utility Toxics Rule include:

 Net annual benefits between $52.5 and $139.5 billion ($10.5 billion more than EPA’s analysis)
 Net job increases of 115,520 (79,550 more than EPA’s analysis)
 Healthcare savings of $4.513 billion (compared to EPA’s $3.445 billion)
Additionally, EPA’s analysis does not account for the $7.17 billion increase in gross domestic product and the $2.689 billion increase in tax revenues expected to result from the Utility Toxics Rule.

"The Clean Air Rules have been expected for almost 10 years and went through a detailed inter-agency review and cost-benefit analysis a few months ago. Now, under the guise of needing more analysis, some in Congress seek further delay to allow companies to continue to operate power plants without adequate pollution controls," said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq. of the Clean Air Council. "Dr. Cicchetti’s study proves that additional analysis uncovers even more benefits and fewer costs than the EPA’s conservative analysis. It is time for Congress to look out for the American people first and not the minority of power plants owners that failed to install pollution controls. Delaying the Utility Toxics and Cross-State Air Pollution rules harms the economy and the public’s health."

The proposed Toxics Rule would limit emissions of HAPs, including mercury; non-mercury metals such as lead and arsenic; and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, from coal-fired power plants. The rule is designed to reduce toxic air pollution and safeguard the public from the premature deaths, asthma attacks, heart attacks, hospital admissions and other avoidable illnesses it causes. Most plants comply or are well positioned to timely comply with the rule, but some owners have yet to invest in pollution controls.

"For some population groups, particularly the disadvantaged communities most often in close proximity to coal-fired power plants, exposure to hazardous substances can be poisonous in a direct manner," said Reverend Horace Strand from the Chester Environmental Partnerships (CEP) in Pennsylvania. "Lowering toxic emissions means fewer people dying early, more kids in school and more people able to go to work every day, which is particularly important at a time when so many people are still struggling."

Additionally, while the EPA measured employment losses from the perspective of employees, this report quantifies the losses incurred by employers since they typically pay for sick days and other benefits, in addition to wages for each employee. Beyond paying employees sick leave and related payroll taxes and benefits, employers also incur additional costs due to lost productivity. Also, while EPA included some reduced health and insurance costs in its analysis, it did not consider resulting reduced administrative expenses.

"The health benefits that the EPA’s Toxics Rule will provide are indisputable. When you add in the additional economic benefits of cleaning up or shutting down old, dirty power plants, it’s like paying Americans to have less mercury and acid gases in the air they breathe," continued the Clean Air Council’s Minott. ―As Dr. Cicchetti says in his report, the nation is seldom offered such a starkly obvious public policy choice as EPA’s Toxics Rule."

Given the significant proven health benefits of cleaning the air, EPA did not need to examine additional benefits besides mortality and morbidity for its study. Cicchetti’s study finds that although the health benefits are substantial, EPA does not quantify the overall value associated with HAP reductions arising from increased agricultural crop and commercial forest yields, visibility improvements, and reductions in nitrogen and acid deposition. It also does not account for costs associated with behavior to avoid the adverse health effects of HAP emissions.

"These benefits are in contrast to the excessive costs imposed by continued reliance on increasingly obsolete and uneconomic power plants, many of which are long past their useful lives and can no longer compete with newer cleaner technologies," noted John Kassel, President, Conservation Law Foundation.

In terms of EPA overestimating the compliance costs associated with the Toxics Rule, the study finds that many changes have already been made in the electricity industry to reduce harmful emissions and that costs are likely to be lower due to the country’s natural gas boom.

"This study shows we don’t have to choose between environmental progress and economic gain. EPA’s air toxics standards will create many billions in economic benefits and tens of thousands of new jobs, while protecting public health and the environment," said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, based in Chicago. "Opponents of these standards have not provided comparable data to justify weakening or delaying them. This study provides valuable information that reinforces now is the time for these rules to be put into place."

For a link to the full report, please visit:

About Dr. Charles J. Cicchetti
Dr. Cicchetti recently retired as the Miller Chair of Government, Business and Economics at the University of Southern California and currently serves as a Senior Advisor to Navigant and Pacific Economics Group. He previously was Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Deputy Director of the Energy and Environmental Policy Center at Harvard University. He has written numerous books and articles on both Benefit/Cost Analyses and electricity economics.

EPA letter to Senator Carper underscores need for tougher new smog standard

This is an excellent letter by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Deep in the smoggy heart of Texas

From our friends at Downwinders as Risk:

For Immediate Release, July 14th 8am
For More Information: Jim Schermbeck - 806-787-6567 -

Before It's Even Finalized,
Group Says New State Smog Plan Has Failed

This summer's bad ozone numbers make it impossible
to meet 1997 standard by next year says Downwinders at Risk;
Group blames lack of state action on gas industry pollution

Citizens' Rick Perry Bean Cook-Off begins at 6:00 pm
TCEQ's Hearing on DFW Smog Plan starts at 6:30
Arlington City Hall, 101 W. Abram

(Arlington)---Even as state officials prepare to submit their newest DFW air plan to the public and EPA for approval, a local clean air group says high ozone levels this month have already made it a failure.

"The state is going through the motions, but it's clear the assumptions it was depending on aren't playing out. Our ozone numbers are already worse than last year's," said Jim Schermbeck, Director of DFW clean air group Downwinders at Risk.

Not succeeding would mean a second failure by the state in six years to reach a 1997 federal ozone standard that the Bush Administration determined was not protecting human health. A 2006 DFW plan failed in 2009, necessitating the current proposed plan, which is the subject of a public hearing on Arlington tonight.

In order for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to claim victory, no DFW ozone monitor can have a three-year running average any higher than 84 parts per billion (ppb). As of this month, that average would be 88.6.

"Right now, it would require a 2012 ozone level of no more than 79 ppb to get an 84 ppb average. Since monitoring began in the mid-1990's DFW has never had a summer ozone number that low," said Schermbeck.

Moreover, Schermbeck noted that since the TCEQ proposal is basically to watch as residents trade in their older, more polluting cars for newer, less polluting ones, there's no new control measures to significantly decrease ozone-forming emissions in the next year.

"Without new initiatives, there's little hope that DFW can make it to where it needs to be by the time it needs to be there."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the EPA sent its latest proposal to reduce the federal ozone standard to between 60 and 70 ppb to the Office of Management and Budget, insuring that an announcement will be made in 30 days. That will trigger a new effort that will demand more direct pollution controls that are missing in the proposed TCEQ plan for the old standard.

Schermbeck said the DFW area had hit a wall in making air quality progress.

"We've been in a holding pattern for about five years now - since the last air plan brought down our ozone levels with a variety of pollution control measures. But our ozone levels now are still what they were in 2007. They're not going down. In fact, this year's numbers are going up."

Schermbeck said rising volumes of gas pollution is one of the reasons.

According to TCEQ's own estimates, by next year there will be more tons of smog-forming Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) produced by the gas industry sources than by all the vehicles in North Texas.

To spotlight this development, and the state's unwillingness to control the growth of this kind of pollution, Schermbeck's group and others are sponsoring a tougue-in-cheek "Rick Perry Bean Cook-Off" immediately prior to the start of tonight's public hearing.

During the Cook-Off, servers in Rick Perry masks will be dishing out "dry" beans and "wet" beans guaranteed to give their consumers a bad case of "Perry gas pollution." They'll be "Gas-B-Gone" relief in the form of a list of pollution control measures that sponsors say could get rid of 90% of gas industry air pollution in DFW while also producing more profits for gas operators.

Last summer, over 200 people attended a similar hearing and all but one speaker voiced frustration over TCEQ's unwillingness to take on industrial pollution affecting the DFW airshed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

EPA sends smog decision to the White House

July 12, 2011

EPA Closes In on Thrice-Delayed Ozone Decision

By GABRIEL NELSON of Greenwire

U.S. EPA has sent the White House a set of final rules to update the national air quality standards for smog, signaling that the Obama administration will make up its mind soon after pushing back the controversial decision three times.

The rules received by the White House Office of Management and Budget yesterday are expected to seek a stricter limit on the acceptable amount of ozone in the air. Administrator Lisa Jackson, who decided to revisit the George W. Bush-era standards as one of her first steps after being appointed, has repeatedly vowed to set a standard that is strong enough to protect public health...

EPA's scientific advisers suggested a standard between 60 and 70 parts per billion (ppb) in 2006 after reviewing the latest studies, but then-Administrator Stephen Johnson set a standard of 75 ppb, down from the previous standard of 84 ppb.

Jackson proposed a standard between 60 and 70 ppb in January 2010, saying that final rules would come out in August. That decision was pushed back to October, and then to December, and now to July 29.

Many business groups and congressional Republicans argue that the stricter standards would cost billions of dollars and require cleanups in many new parts of the country, pushing heavy industry away from the United States. They are urging EPA to wait until the next review wraps up in 2013.

But environmental groups, which were enraged by the last administration's decision, say the health benefits are reason enough for Obama to change course now.

"We sincerely hope and expect these standards will reflect the advice of EPA's science advisers and will better protect health than would the standards set by the Bush administration," said Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Clean Air Watch reaction to and background on Cross-State pollution rule

Clean Air Watch applauds the EPA for taking this vitally important step towards cleaning up dangerous power plant pollution that drifts across state lines. EPA has posted the new rule and related material online at

This is a real milestone. This is a long-overdue and much-needed step towards protecting the health of people in states downwind of big coal burning power plants. It will prove to be a life saver.

It’s an especially significant accomplishment given the irrational attacks on EPA from some polluter-inspired quarters in Congress. In terms of the costs and benefits, it’s a staggering bang for the proverbial buck.

But this is only one step in a much bigger journey. EPA needs to do much more not only to clean up these dirty dinosaurs, but to make sure that public health is protected from dangerous smog and soot.

As the Clean Air Watch Smogwatch Survey demonstrated earlier this week , air pollution remains a very widespread problem.

And these new requirements will not solve all the problems.

Let’s put these standards in context before everyone gets all hyperbolic.

Coal-burning electric power plants have long been one of the biggest and worst sources of air pollution. Historically it has been a particularly big problem because much of the damage is caused downwind of the source. States (and breathers) on the downwind receiving end have limited recourse. That’s why a rule designed to crack down on drifting pollution is so critical.

The Bush administration tried to deal with this problem through what it called the “Clean Air Interstate Rule,” but a federal court ruled it illegal on technical grounds after Duke Energy and some other power companies sued. After appeals by environmental groups, the court left the rule in place but ordered the EPA to come up with an alternative. This EPA has produced the “Cross-State” rule as an alternative which it, and we, hope is on a sounder legal footing

You will note that in its own assessment of the rules (see below – comparison between EPA’s proposal from last year and today’s final), EPA compares the results to a baseline of emissions in the year 2005. However, you should be aware that despite the legal problems of the Bush rule, many power companies began installing pollution controls because they did expect a replacement would ultimately emerge. This new rule should lock in the already-achieved emission reductions and require more in some cases.

But please note these rules are aimed at essentially “old” targets – the 1997 national ozone standard and the 2006 national standard for fine-paticle soot. Both are outdated. (Even the industry-friendly Bush administration made the ozone standard somewhat tougher, and the current EPA has acknowledged the Bush standard is inadequate. EPA is also reviewing the soot standard with an eye towards making it tougher after a federal court ruled the Bush standard was “arbitrary and capricious” because the Bush crowd ignored EPA’s science advisers.)

In short, in order to make sure the public is truly breathing healthful air, EPA must do even more to crack down on drifting pollution.

And, as regards pollution from coal-fired power plants, EPA must follow through with its proposal to limit mercury and other toxic pollutants. That is really the big one when it comes to dealing with power plant emissions. (Note that EPA argues that coal use will actually INCREASE under the rules announced today. I doubt that will cool the anti-EPA fervor of coal-state members of Congress such as Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. EPA had said it’s proposal would slightly reduce coal use.)

There are a few quick notes below on how today’s final rule differs from last year’s proposal. (The final is scaled back slightly in some respects though the big-picture impact is basically similar. Several Northeastern states were exempted which some others – notably Texas – have to do more cleanup. If you need a reference point, a summary of the proposal is available at )


Transport /Cross-State Changes from Proposal


31 states and DC


28 states

Left out: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, DC


Proposal: SO2 down 71% over 2005. Nox down 52% from 2005

Final: This “AND OTHER FINAL EPA AND STATE ACTIONS”: SO2 down 73%, Nox down 54% from 2005

From the proposal:
Body Count stuff (you can see the impact has been scaled back slightly in some respects):
Health Effect Number of Cases Avoided

Premature mortality 14,000 to 36,000
Non-fatal heart attacks 23,000
Hospital and emergency department visits 26,000
Acute bronchitis 21,000
Upper and lower respiratory symptoms 440,000
Aggravated asthma 240,000
Days when people miss work or school 1.9 million
Days when people must restrict their activities 11 million
EPA estimates the annual benefits from the proposed
rule range between $120-$290 billion (2006 $) in 2014.
– Most of these benefits are public health-related.
– $3.6 billion are attributable to visibility improvements in areas such as
national parks and wilderness areas.
– Other nonmonetized benefits include reductions in mercury
contamination, acid rain, eutrophication of estuaries and coastal waters,
and acidification of forest soils.
• EPA estimates annual compliance costs at $2.8 billion in
• Modest costs mean small effects on electricity
generation. EPA estimates that in 2014:
– Electricity prices increase less than 2 percent.
– Natural gas prices increase less than 1 percent.
– Coal use is reduced by less than 1 percent.

The emission reductions from this final rule will have significant and immediate public health benefits. By 2014, this rule will annually prevent:
13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths,
19,000 cases of acute bronchitis,
15,000 nonfatal heart attacks,
19,000 hospital and emergency room visits,
1.8 million days when people miss work or school,
400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and
420,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms.

These emission reductions will also improve visibility in national and state parks, and increase protection for sensitive ecosystems including Adirondack lakes and Appalachian streams, coastal waters and estuaries, and forests.
The $800 million spent annually on this rule in 2014, along with the roughly $1.6 billion per year in capital investments already under way as a result of CAIR, are improving air quality for over 240 million Americans and will result in $120 to $280 billion in annual benefits. These estimates include the costs and benefits of the supplemental proposal.
EPA modeling shows that coal use will continue to grow under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

Compared to 2005, EPA estimates that by 2014 this proposal and other federal
rules would lower emissions by:
• 6.3 million tons per year of SO2
• 1.4 million tons per year of NOX
o including 300,000 tons per year of NOX during the ozone season.

Compared to 2005, EPA estimates that by 2014 this rule and other federal rules will lower power plant annual emissions in the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule region by:
6.4 million tons per year of SO2 (2005 emissions were 8.8 million tons)
1.4 million tons per year of NOX (2005 emissions were 2.6 million tons)
Including 340,000 tons per year of NOX during the ozone season.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

EPA slams new polluter-friendly House budget scheme

Thanks to Politico Pro

"The bill released today proposes funding cuts and extraneous policy riders that would undermine bipartisan, commonsense steps to protect the health and safety of the American people,” EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan says in a statement. “They would significantly undermine our ability to enforce laws that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink and cut dangerous pollution that threatens the health of our families."

A festival of special interests: House spending bill would curb EPA ghg authority, give other deals to industry

The new spending bill, to be voted on tomorrow by a House panel, is contains a long list of provisions to block effective EPA action to limit pollution.

It's a veritable festival of special interest provisions.

In addition to slashing EPA's budget, the bill would:

--Curb EPA's authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from smokestack industries.
--Order EPA to approve more polluting "flexible" air permits.
(EPA has been battling Texas Governor Rick Perry over this issue.)
--Block EPA from regulating toxic coal ash.
--Ease air pollution control requirements for offshore oil projects.
--Prevent federal regulators from moving forward with regulations intended to protect streams from mountaintop-removal coal mining.
--Limit EPA authority under the Clean Water Act.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Clean Air Watch Smogwatch Survey through June 2011: Grim News in June

(though June 30)

States with smog problems in 2011 (smog levels worse than the weak standards set by the Bush administration in 2008) through June 30:
(38 plus DC)

District of Columbia*
New Jersey
New Mexico*
New York*
North Carolina*
Rhode Island*
South Carolina*
West Virginia*
*=problem in June 2011

Total smog days: 1682 (1237 in June)

Compared to 2010 through June 30:


2010 (40)

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Rhode Island
West Virginia

Total smog days 1146 [567 in June 2010]

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Excellent Washington Post editorial rebukes "wildly overblown" Republican attacks on EPA

An overblown attack on EPA emissions rules
By Editorial, Published: July 2

PRACTICALLY EVERY day on the campaign trail, Republican presidential hopefuls blast President Obama’s “job-killing regulations.” Atop their list are rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, one of which the EPA will finalize this week.

The would-be presidents aren’t alone. Since the Republicans took control of Congress, GOP lawmakers have repeatedly attempted to derail rules on the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, as well as new restrictions on conventional air pollutants that the EPA has regulated for decades — gases and particulates that contribute to asthma, heart attacks and other health problems. Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have announced that they will introduce a bill in August designed to roll back pending regulations on toxic air pollutants from utilities and industrial boilers.

Yet predictions of EPA-induced disaster are wildly overblown, at best.
Bloomberg Government released a study on greenhouse gas regulation last month, finding that the first phase of the EPA’s efforts will cost little and produce little in terms of emissions reductions, since power plants are becoming more efficient and therefore producing fewer emissions anyway. Bloomberg found that forthcoming greenhouse gas rules might be tougher, but that, among other things, utilities will respond by simply burning more cheap natural gas instead of coal.

Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress pointed out that many coal power plants — the sort of facilities that an EPA crackdown on toxic air pollutants such as mercury would affect — already have relevant pollution control technologies installed or in construction. And dozens of those that don’t are old, inefficient, rarely used and, in many cases, slated for closure. Last year a Credit Suisse study found that EPA anti-air-
pollution rules might encourage some additional coal plants to shut down — but that the closures would actually help utilities in oversupplied power markets, not to mention improving ambient air quality.

There will, of course, be costs. But there will also be benefits. The EPA asserts that for every dollar spent on measures to cut particulate and ozone pollution, there will be $30 in economic benefits to public health — fewer sick days taken, fewer chronic illnesses, fewer early deaths. On greenhouse gases, a fair reading of the EPA’s new air pollution rules suggests that, if anything, they won’t do nearly enough to address the risks associated with climate change, perhaps cutting emissions a few percentage points relative to business as usual. And since the EPA is using an old statute to tackle carbon emissions, which it hasn’t done before, its effort to do even that will be subject to years of legal challenges.

Instead of blasting the EPA, Congress could craft climate policy that is both more efficient and more effective — upping energy research budgets and putting a price on carbon. But, judging from the rhetoric on the campaign trail and in the House, we aren’t optimistic that will happen anytime soon.