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US EPA Clean Power Plan

By:
Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Jun 28, 2016  at  at 9:15 AM
Category
Climate Change

The primary weapon in the US Administration’s crusade to save the world from anthropogenic global warming (climate change) is the US EPA Clean Power Plan, which sets CO2 emissions limits for coal-fired electric generators which could only be met with the installation of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) systems. The plan requires CO2 emissions from power generation to be reduced by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030.

The Plan effectively requires the retirement of older coal-fired generators which are either technologically or economically unsuitable for the installation of carbon capture systems. The Plan also effectively discourages (prevents?) the construction of new coal-fired generators, since CCS is currently not demonstrated technology at commercial scale; and, the technology does not appear to be economically viable, even on new plants designed to accommodate CCS. The Plan also encourages expanded transition from economic dispatch of power generators (lowest cost first) to environmental dispatch (renewables and lowest emissions first), thus inexorably increasing wholesale power costs.

A coalition of 26 states and one coal company have filed suits against EPA in federal court, seeking to have the court overturn the EPA rule; and, to stay its execution until the legal challenges are resolved. The stay is viewed as essential, given EPA’s history of “slow walking” the appeals process, thus forcing those affected by the regulations to prepare to comply with the contested regulations, even as they challenge them in the courts. This is particularly important for electric generators, which require long lead times for planning, regulatory approval, equipment procurement and installation, construction and commissioning.

Members of the US Senate and House of Representatives have also filed challenges to the Plan under the Congressional Review Act, challenging EPA rules for both existing and new power plants. Congress considered the inclusion of CO2 under the Clean Air Act, but chose not to include CO2 as a criteria pollutant under the Act. Thus, certain members of Congress believe that EPA has effectively rewritten the Act in the issuance of the Clean Power Plan.