Friday, September 20, 2013

Quick Thoughts on EPA's Climate Proposal for Power Plants

There will be numerous people commenting today on EPA's new proposed greenhouse gas standards for power plants, so I will keep this short:

There is no need for me to re-hash the details of the proposal, available today from the EPA.

EPA should be congratulated. Cleaning up power plants could prove to be the signature environmental achievement and enduring legacy of the Obama Administration's second term.

But this isn't the end of the saga, only the beginning.  EPA still needs to move promptly to set final standards for new power plants and to deal with the more critical issue of emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

For critics who claim this will hurt the coal industry, I say baloney.  It is time for the "clean coal" lobby to put up or shut up. 

EPA is actually giving the coal industry a shot to compete.  But EPA is asking "clean coal" to live up to that description. It's about time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Senator Thune Tries to Block Cleaner-Gas "Tier 3" Plan Through Amendment to Energy Efficiency Bill

It should come as no surprise that the pending Senate energy efficiency legislation would become a magnet for dreadful special interest amendments.

One of the most odious amendments has been introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD) – and no doubt drafted at the instigation of oil industry lobbyists – to kill EPA’s pending “Tier 3” plan for cleaner, lower-sulfur gasoline and lower-polluting motor vehicles.
Senator Thune is, of course, part of the Senate Republican Leadership, so his actions need to be taken seriously.  He has introduced several other anti-EPA amendments to the energy bill, including attempts to block greenhouse gas standards for power plants:          

Needless to say, the Tier 3 amendment has nothing to do with energy efficiency. It’s just a ploy by the oil industry to block EPA.  Let’s hope the Senate leadership shuts this down without a vote.

Here is the relevant part of the Thune amendment on cleaner, lower-sulfur gasoline:

[If] The Secretary of Energy determines that the Tier 3 motor vehicle emission and fuel standard would result in an increase in the price of gasoline, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall not finalize the standard.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Why the Carnival Cruise Pollution Deal Means We Need Final Tier 3 Car and Gasoline Standards This Year

After many months of lobbying Congress and the EPA to back away from standards designed to reduce deadly ocean ship air pollution near U.S. coasts, Carnival Cruise Lines has finally reached an agreement in principle with the EPA to reduce its ship emissions.  

Under this arrangement, Carnival would be permitted temporary exemptions that would permit some of its ships to pollute more until they could be fitted with pollution control systems.

This will mean short-term pollution increases but also the possibility of long-term pollution reductions.  The key issue here will be enforcement of these new limits, and Clean Air Watch will continue to monitor this issue closely.

But this deal also underscores the big need for EPA to move ahead with its "Tier 3" plan for cleaner motor vehicles and cleaner, lower-sulfur gasoline to reduce smog and soot pollution.  We need to find a way to make up for the short-term pollution increases associated with the Carnival deal, and the Tier 3 plan is the best way to do it. 

EPA needs to make the Tier 3 rules final by the end of this year.  Any delay will only mean more dirty air, and more health damage.