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WE DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN GOOD JOBS AND A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT:
Background on the EPA’s Rules on Existing Power Plants
Provided by The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance
On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its long awaited proposal to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance continues to review the proposal (the preamble alone is 450 pages) but according to several sources, and current press accounts, the proposal is expected to include the following:
EPA’s proposal sets state-by-state emissions rate targets for 2030.
• The national target is a 30% reduction relative to a 2005 baseline year.
• Individual emissions rate targets vary for each state.
• EPA calculated each state emissions rate target based on each state’s ability to:
o improve heat rates at existing coal-fueled power plants by 6%,
o increase capacity factors at natural gas power plants to 70%,
o add new renewable generation,
o retain existing nuclear generation, and
o increase end use energy efficiency.
• States are allowed to meet the target emissions rate however they like, including grouping together with other states.
• States must submit implementations plans by either 2016 for individual states or 2017 for groups of states.
• Implementation starts in 2020 and must be measurable, verifiable, enforceable, contain penalties, and have interim targets.
• EPA does not provide NSR relief (e.g., for efficiency improvements).
As you will also note, President Obama had the following to say during his weekly radio address:
In his weekly radio address, Obama said the United States had to do more to reduce carbon emissions so that children suffering from asthma and other related ailments did not face further problems as a result of polluted air. His argument was a preview of the case that his administration will make in the coming weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Mondayunveils new rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants across the country. Although the rules are intended to help Washington meet international obligations to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, the White House’s focus on human health benefits is part of a sales pitch to drum up support from the American public. Obama recorded his address at a medical center in Washington, where children with asthma were treated. "Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution, pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change," he said. "And for the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to reduce it."
Additionally, at the roll-out Monday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: "to those who say these rules will increase energy prices, they are wrong. Should I say that again, they are wrong."
It is important to note that this proposal will be very costly, raise energy and electricity costs, and impact grid reliability, especially in states that rely on coal-based power. Also, this proposal is meant to limit carbon dioxide emissions only. Yet, the Administration insists on pushing public health impacts, in large part because the of the political difficulty in pushing a costly plan to shut down fossil fuel facilities without broad public support to do so. Reducing carbon does not prevent asthma or heart attacks. As the White House’s own endangerment finding (the finding used to now justify the rule) cited in 2009:
"To be clear, ambient concentrations of carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases, whether at current levels or at projected ambient levels under scenarios of high emissions growth over time, do not cause direct adverse health effects such as respiratory or toxic effects. All public health risks and impacts described here as a result of elevated atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases occur via climate change."
ACCCE on Initial Review of 111(d)
EPA Carbon Emissions Rule: Misses the Mark
Washington, D.C. – The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) blasted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following initial review of today’s proposed rule on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. The costly rule, seen by many as the principal tenet of President Obama’s misguided pursuit of a climate legacy, will spur devastating economic impacts including job losses and energy costs.
"If these rules are allowed to go into effect, the administration for all intents and purposes is creating America’s next energy crisis," said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of ACCCE. "As we predicted, the administration chose political expediency over practical reality as it unveiled energy standards devoid of commonsense and flexibility. These guidelines represent a complete disregard for our country’s most vital fuel sources, like American coal, which provides nearly 40 percent of America’s power, reliably and affordably."
Filed under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, today’s rule is the first-ever set of guidelines proposed by the EPA to states as they create their own carbon emissions protocols for existing power units. In the months leading up to the rule’s release, the EPA claimed the standards would allow power plants the adequate time and flexibility needed to meet requirements.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, speaking at IHS’s CERAWeek conference in March, said that conventional fuels like coal and natural gas "are going to continue to play a critical role in a diverse U.S. energy mix" and promised that the rule "will not change that" but instead recognize this reality.
Yet, as ACCCE has long cautioned, the proposed rule imposes stringent and potentially unattainable standards on state-based power grids that will leave millions of Americans with higher electric bills and at increased risk for rolling blackouts.
"Sadly, EPA’s proposed regulations put America’s low- and middle-income families most at risk of paying disproportionately more for energy. Those same families have seen their income dwindle by 22 percent over the last decade while their energy bills have increased by 27 percent," Duncan said. "More so, the rule threatens the energy reliability and economic promise we enjoy today. Only by recognizing the importance of an energy portfolio rich in fuel source diversity will we preserve America’s access to stable and affordable power."
Coal continues to be the country’s leading fuel source for electricity generation in the U.S. And thanks to the industry’s investment of $118 billion, so far, major emissions from coal-fueled power plants have been reduced by nearly 90 percent. The industry plans to invest another $27 billion through 2016 to further deploy clean coal technology and reduce emissions.
The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of The Susquehanna Valley Center.
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