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Posts Tagged ‘EPA regulations’


Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
Nuclear Townhall
December 24, 2010

The first shot in the War between the Red and Blue States has been fired. Yesterday the Environmental Protection Administration announced it will seize permitting power for new projects from Texas authorities in order to enforce its new standards regulating carbon dioxide emissions and prevent global warming.
Texas, which has a booming economy and just gained four new seats in the House of Representatives with the new U.S. Census, is not in a mood to comply. "The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families," Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Governor Rick Perry, told the Dallas Morning News.

The North Korea-South Korea standoff may seem tame in a couple of weeks when compared to the face-off taking shape between Washington and Texas over regulation of carbon dioxide. With nearly 170 construction projects shovel-ready for the New Year, the Lone Star State is now being told to hold the phone – nothing can proceed because of the Environmental Protection Administration’s new campaign to limit carbon emissions.

“This is an arrogant act by an overreaching E.P.A. that is trying to implement new, unnecessary controls on American industry,” Andrea Morrow, a spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality tells The New York Times. But the EPA is equally adamant. “The unwillingness of Texas state officials to implement this portion of the federal program leaves E.P.A. no choice but to resume its role as the permitting authority,” said Gina McCarthy, the E.P.A. assistant administrator for air issues.

Here’s the sequence of events that have led to the confrontation. In the absence of any climate bill from Congress, the Obama Administration proceeding with its Plan B effectively turning carbon regulations over to the EPA. The usual procedure is for the EPA to ask the states to draw up their own “implementation plans.”  The Administration set January 2 as the deadline but Texas claims that it is supposed to have a year to comply.

Sensing insubordination, the EPA has said it will step in and take over the permitting process after the first of the year. Several other states have challenged the EPA’s authority and the basis of climate science in court but none are standing up to the EPA in the manner of Texas. The spectacle of EPA troops marching into Texas could become the Fort Sumter of the pending battle between the blue and red states. Texas has by far the nation’s strongest economy. The state is running billion-dollar surpluses and has $7.6 billion in a rainy-day fund.

The state had the largest gain in population in the recently released U.S. Census figures and will add two new members to the House of Representatives this decade.

The contrast between Texas prosperity and the doldrums in the rest of the country is likely to throw heavy-handed federal regulation into stark contrast.   The showdown moves to its second act on January 2nd.

Read more at the Dallas Morning News


Thursday, November 11th, 2010

If you think corn ethanol has become one of the nation’s biggest boondoggles, wait until you see where the Environmental Protection Agency has in store for the nation’s utility industries.
EPA pulled back the curtain yesterday with new rules saying that utilities will be allowed to escape the carbon regulations that begin next January if they switch to burning farm and woodland wastes instead of coal.
“The new guidance allows for the substitution of biomass — wood waste, switchgrass or other agricultural products — for fossil fuels as a way to meet the new air quality rules,” reports The New York Times. “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that would generate new income opportunities for American farmers and forestry companies while reducing global warming emissions.”
It is hard to imagine a more insane energy policy – although it certainly seems plausible that it could happen. Already several utilities around the country have substituted wood wastes for coal under the illusion that they are helping global warming.
The policy will also be sure to “generate new income opportunities for farmers and forestry companies” as farmers forget about feeding people and simply load up their crops for shipment to the nearest power plant. That is what already happens with the nation’s corn crop, where farmers now send 30 percent of their harvest to the nearest ethanol distillery, driving up food prices around the world. The UN Food and Agricultural Organizations regularly calls biofuels “a crime against humanity,” but nobody in this country pays much attention.
Biofuels in power plants will double down on this tortured policy. Massachusetts has already backed away from a wood-burning mandate after realizing that wood wastes are nowhere near adequate and that people will soon be chopping down the state’s forests to feed the power plants. The administration of Democratic Governor Deval Patrick came after a study by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences found burning wood would actually produce more greenhouse gases than burning coal.

It’s not hard to see out why. Wood has only half the energy density of coal and is widely scattered across the landscape so it requires much more energy to gather and harvest. A landmark study published in Science in 2008 found that substituting biofuels for fossil fuels does not become “carbon neutral” for 90 years. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee calls biofuels “a controlled bonfire.”
Nevertheless, based on scuttlebutt from the environmental community, the Obama Administration is charging ahead. In doing so, they will be following in the footsteps of General Jubilation T. Cornpone, of “Li’l Abner” fame, of whom it was sung: 
“With out ammunition gone and facing utter defeat,
Who was it who burned the crops so we had nothing to eat.”
Someday the Administration may want to erect a statue of General Cornpone in front of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Read more at the New York Times’ Green blog


Friday, October 29th, 2010

If Republicans achieve their expected gains in next week’s election, probably the first Obama Administration position they will attack will be the coming EPA effort to regulate carbon emissions.
A broad coalition of business and industry groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Manufacturers Association and the American Chemistry Council – fired the first shot yesterday, asking Republican leaders to take on the EPA as soon as the House and Senate reconvene for the lame-duck session.  The most likely target is a moratorium on the rulemaking attached to either an omnibus budget or new continuing resolution.
The threat to allow the EPA to start writing carbon regulations was the sword the President held over Congress’s head during his efforts to pass cap-and-trade or some other carbon regime. Many speculated it was only a gambit but now the Administration is obligated to follow through.
Business and industry, on the other hand, argue that the EPA effort would impose “substantial costs and burdens on U.S. jobs and state resources while intruding on Congress’s important leadership role in developing energy policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” 
The EPA regulations, based the U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared carbon dioxide a “pollutant,” are aimed mainly at stationary sources, notably power plants. Significantly, they will require clearance before any new sources can be added to a state’s air shed. Utility owners are already arguing they will be forced to delay the construction of new capacity, even relatively clean natural gas plants intended to replace old coal plants.
The business and industry group’s letter was addressed to two Republicans and eight Democrats, including Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, all of whom represent states with strong dependence on coal.

Read more at the Hill



Friday, October 22nd, 2010

When the smoke clears after the November mid-term elections, probably the most divisive battle between the entrenched Obama Administration and the party crashing Tea Partiers will be fought over the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon emissions in January. Ironically, the right is now being led by liberal Democrat Jay Rockefeller, of West Virginia, who is urging coal miners in his state to “get mad” over EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s unilateral effort to enforce a national climate plan. 

A forerunner of this pending drama could be seen this week as the Obama Administration once again postponed its effort to tighten Bush Administration standards on ozone in an obvious attempt to avoid election blowback. Even as the administration shuffles its feet, Republicans are charging hard, with Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, calling the ozone review part of the President’s "anti-industrial policy" and top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee listing it as one of the costliest new regulations being issued under the Clean Air Act

The battle over ozone is nothing compared to what carbon regulations are going to inspire. Implementation plans are usually drawn up by the states but the EPA has already pre-empted this by saying it will substitute its own plans in those states that have not come up with anything yet. Texas is suing, saying that the law gives them three years to comply.

If EPA prevails, any new building projects will require extensive review to make sure they are not adding to a state’s “carbon footprint.”  Whole state economies may be at stake. Meanwhile, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is leading a bi-partisan effort in the Senate to postpone the EPA effort. But Murkowski is locked in a bitter write-in campaign election after being defeated as too moderate by a Tea Party rival in the Republican primary. 

As one nuclear energy observer opined:  "Just think, all this could be avoided with nuclear energy, which promises clean air, adequate power and economic prosperity all at once. Instead we’ll have to wait to see the carbon debate blow up after the election."

Read more about it at the New York Times


Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Having spent less than a year working out the details, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is getting ready to impose widespread rules on carbon emissions across the entire economy beginning January 1.

The issue promises to be wildly contentious – particularly if the Republicans get control of either branch of Congress in November. The bipartisan opposition is already being led by several coal state Democrats, most prominently Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, one of the most reliable liberal voices in the Senate. Almost 90 percent of the electricity in the Midwest comes from coal and no new construction projects will be allowed to go ahead if reductions in emissions are not made. Whole state economies are at stake.

The confusion that is likely to prevail is evident in this morning’s Politico article, which refers constantly to the question of carbon emissions as “pollution controls.”  “The Obama administration has said it will limit its regulations to only the biggest sources at first, but it’s still unclear exactly what pollution controls will be required,” says the article. “[G]uidance [from the EPA] has been stalled indefinitely at the White House, where officials are sparring over the costs of installing pollution controls.”

But carbon emissions are not “pollution” in the classic sense of a “resource out of place.”  They are the unavoidable by-product of combustion. There is no way to “control” them except by cutting back on fossil fuels or replacing them with something else – like nuclear power.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried an editorial charging that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is breaking the law by not allowing the states three years to come up with their implementation plans for enforcing the new EPA regulations, as specified by the Clean Air Act.

It’s going to get interesting after the first of the year.

Read more at Politico