In the News
Oops! EPA’s Climate Rules for New Power Plants Would Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 7 August 2015
Lawmakers Take Aim at EPA ‘Sue and Settle’ Collusion
George Russell, FoxNews.com, 5 August 2015
Climate Skepticism: Science, Poverty, Free Speech at Issue
Paul Driessen, Master Resource, 4 August 2015
Obama’s Final Carbon Rule Combines Fake Carrots and a Big Stick
Alex Fitzsimmons, Institute for Energy Research, 4 August 2015
News You Can Use
“Clean Power” Plan’s Measly Benefits
According to the Cato Institute’s Chip Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would limit global warming by .0018 degrees Celsius in 2100.
Inside the Beltway
EPA’s Colossally Costly Power Plan Fulfills Obama’s Campaign Promise
President Barack Obama on 3rd August announced the EPA’s final rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. In doing so, the President has finally fulfilled a pledge he made when running for president in 2008. Then-Senator Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008 that, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
The Existing Source Performance Standards (or ESPS) being applied under section 111d of the Clean Air Act to coal- and gas-fired power plants already in operation are called by the EPA the “Clean Power” Plan. Don’t buy it. More accurate names would be the Costly Power Plan or the Skyrocketing Rates Power Plan (h/t Alan Carlin) or the Obama Power Grab (h/t Senator McConnell’s office) or the National Energy Tax (h/t Speaker Boehner’s office).
The final ESPS is 1560 pages. The final rule is significantly different from the proposed rule released in June 2014. In fact, it is so different that the legal case has already been made that it is a brand new rule and therefore EPA must start the rulemaking process all over again.
Here are some of the major changes from the proposed to the final rule. EPA has extended the deadlines by two years, but has also increased the emissions reductions that must be achieved by 2030 from 30% to 32% below the 2005 baseline. The proposed rule contained four “building blocks” by which States can meet their individual targets.
The final rule lowers its estimates of reductions that can be made from building block one—efficiency improvements in generating plants—from 6% to 2-4%. Reliance on building block two—replacing coal-fired plants with naturalgas-fired plants—has been reduced, while reliance on replacing coal with renewable energy sources (building block three), such as windmills and solar panels, has been increased. And EPA has dropped gains in energy efficiency (building block four) entirely, although States can still count any emissions reductions that result from efficiency gains.
The final ESPS gives extra incentives for early moves to more renewable energy. It also changes the way nuclear plants under construction and those that may be built in the future are counted. In short, the big loser in the final rule will still be coal, but natural gas will now also be a loser. It’s not clear to me whether nuclear gains or loses. But there is no doubt that the big winners will be renewable energy producers, compared to the proposed rule.
Those are major changes, but by far the biggest change is that EPA has completely recalculated the targets that each State must meet. –Read the rest at GlobalWarming.org.
New Source Performance Standards
EPA’s final “Carbon Pollution Standards” rule, released today, requires new coal-fired power plants to meet a standard of 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (1,400 lbs. CO2/MWh) – less stringent than the 1,100 lbs. CO2/MWh standard in the agency’s Jan. 2014 proposed rule.
Under §111 of the Clean Air Act, performance standards are to reflect the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) that has been “adequately demonstrated,” taking “cost” into account.
EPA says the final standard “better represents the requirement that the BSER be implementable at reasonable cost.” That’s a face-saving way of saying the agency’s original proposal would not have survived judicial review.
Although not as blatantly unreasonable, the rule remains fatally flawed. —Read the rest at GlobalWarming.org.
Proposed Federal Implementation Plan
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to review state compliance strategies. If the agency disapproves a state plan, then the EPA is required to implement a federal plan in its stead. Therefore, under the “Clean Power” Plan, the EPA would be empowered to impose its own energy policy on unwilling States, if the agency decided that a given state’s submission was insufficiently green. It is unclear what form such a federal energy plan would take, as nothing of this sort (i.e., EPA trying to set national electricity policy) has ever before been attempted under the Clean Air Act. As part of next week’s rollout, the EPA is expected to propose a generic federal takeover of a state’s energy sector. Possible proposals include a federally operated cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme or a direct emissions limits based on system-wide controls. Whatever form the proposal takes, it will engender serious constitutional difficulties.
Across the States
Update on Ongoing Efforts to Stop “Clean Power” Plan
On Wednesday, 16 States (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming and West Virginia) petitioned the EPA to delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan until judicial review of the rule has run its course. Their request was based on the significant differences in how the final rule calculates state requirements from the proposal. They argue that their respective governments spent significant time and resources addressing the rule as proposed, and now that effort is largely wasted because EPA moved the goalposts. The States make an excellent point, but EPA undoubtedly will reject their petition.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.