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

VIA FACSIMILE
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
attacks.

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.

Sincerely,
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

1 comment:

pagg supplement said...

Thats a great post it is a great thing that the public health groups protest on the regulatory commission, rather it is very necessary because clean air is essential for us and its our duty to make air pure by decreasing the pollution from air