EPA to delay rule limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants?

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The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is "leaning toward" delaying a proposed EPA rule limiting GHG emissions from future U.S. power plants. The rule, pending for almost a year now, would essentially preclude construction of new coal-fired plants that don't have carbon sequestration technology. Why such a long delay? Is it a matter of prudent and deliberative procedure essential for good rulemaking, or is it another case of White House political interference in science-based regulation, as we saw in 2011 in the case of the "smog rule" -- when an important science- and health-based EPA air quality rule was pulled down by a White House that appeared to have caved under pressure from corporate polluters. With EPA besieged from multiple directions, a key question is, will it be allowed to do its job?

We're now well into the fourth year since EPA announced its Endangerment Finding that greenhouse gases threaten human health and welfare. Under the Clean Air Act, that finding should trigger regulation of greenhouse gases stringent enough to be commensurate with the danger. Yet we have an increasingly delayed rule on future power plants, and no sign the agency is even beginning to develop a rule on emissions from existing power plants -- nor has EPA announced whether it even intends to draft such a rule. Is the White House holding EPA back on that as well?

From Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post March 15 (online):

EPA likely to delay climate rules for new power plants

The Obama administration is leaning toward revising its landmark proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, according to several individuals briefed on the matter, a move that would delay tougher restrictions and could anger many environmentalists. ...

Rewriting the proposal would significantly delay any action, and might allow the agency to set a separate standard for coal-fired power plants, which are roughly twice as polluting as those fueled by natural gas.

While the move could bolster the administration’s legal justification for regulating power plants’ carbon emissions, any delay on the rules would be a blow to environmental groups and their supporters, who constituted a crucial voting block for President Obama and other Democrats in last year’s elections.

Individuals familiar with the matter asked not to be identified because a final decision has not been made. The White House declined to comment. ...

Regulating utilities represents the best opportunity for the president to cut the nation’s carbon output. ...

The agency is supposed to finalize the rule by April 13 but is likely to miss that deadline, and officials are discussing with the White House how they might modify the proposal in order to ensure it can survive a legal challenge. ...

“It’s critical to get this standard out without delay and get onto the standards for existing sources,” [Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney David] Doniger said. “The deadline is coming, and if the deadline isn’t met they should expect groups like ours will take legal action to meet their responsibility.” ...

Earlier posts:

On Obama's nominees for EPA Administrator and Secretary of Energy (March 13)

Lisa Jackson EPA resignation a refusal to support Obama Keystone XL pipeline decision? (December 29, 2012)

"Smog Rules" -- Obama, scientific integrity, and environmental policy (December 5, 2011)

 

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2 Responses to EPA to delay rule limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants?

  1. sandcanyongal says:

    The oil and gas companies, cement plants and manufacturing comopanies have had plent of time to reduce emissions and develop technology. Instead they've concentrated on lies, media advertising about "clean" coal, "clean" oil and "clean" natural gas. If the companies instead had focused on developing real technologies EPA wouldn't be backing out of their carbon emissions reductions. Sorry my friends but no company or person has the right to poison us and cause us cancers, contaminate our water and food supply, pollute the air or wreck the ecosystems that we rely on. Screw them. Make them cut emissions or close their doors.

    • Ashley says:

      I agree. The propaganda of "clean" oil or "clean" gas is nonsense. I fully believe that these companies have the technology to reduce their emissions but refuse to spend the money, they also don't want to admit anything might be damaging about their product. As long as political campaigns are backed by big energy corporations, the EPA will be limited in what they can accomplish.

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