Skip to comments.New Laws May Let Power Plants Pollute More
Posted on 10/13/2005 6:58:29 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration proposed new regulations Thursday that could allow the nation's dirtiest power plants to release more air pollutants each year and possibly undercut lawsuits aimed at forcing companies to comply with the Clean Air Act.
The proposal follows a June federal court ruling that said power plants can throw more pollutants into the air each year when they modernize to operate for longer hours.
It's the latest in a series of attempts by the Environmental Protection Agency to make the nearly 30-year-old Clean Air Act rules for coal-fired power plants more industry-friendly. Some changes were held up by lawsuits from environmentalists and state officials.
"We are now doing to smokestacks what we did to tailpipes," said EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, who predicted the regulations would spur greater technology innovation.
"We want to remove any unnecessary regulatory obstacles," he said. "We're focused on practical, achievable results that don't get delayed by years of litigation."
The EPA proposal affects the nation's 600 coal-burning power plants, which represent 55 percent of the nation's electric generating capacity. Industry officials say the plants are getting cleaner. But they continue to produce millions of tons of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide blamed for smog, acid rain and soot and other fine particles that lodge in people's lungs and cause asthma and other respiratory ailments. They also remain a big source of mercury, which works its way up the food chain after being absorbed by fish.
EPA "is embracing industry-backed loopholes that undermine basic protections for millions of Americans breathing harmful smokestack pollution," said Vickie Patton, an attorney who handles air quality issues for the advocacy group Environmental Defense.
Proponents say other EPA and state regulations would prevent that from happening.
"The heavy lifting of emissions control is already ensured by tough new EPA rules on interstate emissions and mercury control," said Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents electric utilities.
Utilities are legally obligated to continue to cut their pollution, said Dan Riedinger, spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, another trade group. He said it was "a gross distortion of the facts" to conclude that power plants would increase pollution.
But an analysis of EPA data by Environmental Defense shows many East Coast power plants won't install new controls to clean up sulfur dioxide by 2015, despite EPA's predictions.
In June, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Duke Energy Corp. didn't need permission from EPA or states when it improved eight power plants in North Carolina and South Carolina from 1988 to 2000. But EPA seems to depart from another ruling in June, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In a challenge by New York to EPA's air programs, that court said "Congress directed the agency to measure emissions increases in terms of changes in actual emissions," not by hourly rates.
The Bush administration in 2002 and 2003 rewrote how EPA administers a Clean Air Act program that Congress approved in 1977. It was designed to ensure that aging power plants would have to install state-of-the-art equipment if they expanded or modernized in a way that results in significantly more air pollution in surrounding communities.
Former President Clinton used the program to bring suits against 51 aging, coal-burning power plants, primarily in the Ohio Valley and the South. Those new regulations have been placed on hold while federal courts review challenges to them by state officials and environmental and health groups.
But during the Bush presidency, Justice Department officials have continued to negotiate settlements in which many of the sued utilities agreed to pay stiff fines and install new pollution controls costing in the hundreds of millions of dollars. They have also filed new lawsuits against other coal-burning power plants since Bush took office.
Johnson said the EPA would continue to support cases already filed, but new ones in the pipeline would be taken up only if they conformed to the agency's new regulations.
But EPA's proposed rule "will adversely impact our enforcement cases and is largely unenforceable as written," Adam Kushner, director of EPA's Air Enforcement Division, wrote in an August 25 internal memo, obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council advocacy group.
The latest EPA proposal would accomplish through regulation more changes along the lines of what the administration has tried to do in Congress and the courts. A version of the changes had been included in the House energy bill until last week.
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women, children, and minorites hardest hit.
A reporter's speculations as to what "may" happen, now qualify as news?
Does that include rat droppings? A lot of those exercise wheels hooked to generators might help, but due to the green folks this plan hasnt been attempted yet...
Who needs power when we got all these trees" /sarc
We are expected to just accept that the Socialists and Communists want no progress on things that might help the US. Better to continue to hamstring the energy producers, then castigate the Republicans via the newspapers for not fixing everything. Luckily, it seems the majority of the coting public understands the Dims game.
coting = voting wake up fingers!
The headline alone shorts my wires. Though there is no proof that new rules and regulations will cause polution, the LSM remains "stuck on stupid".
How did we ever survive without all the liberal regulations before??? What is good for America, is BAD FOR THE LIBS. Always.
They wouldn't ever consider a headline that read "New laws would reduce high cost of energy"
Years ago, when the acid rain scare first started, the U.S. Govt fertilizer research facility at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, did research on adding sulfur as a coating to fertilizer prills -- to replace the sulfur being removed from the air.
Sulfur is necessary for plants to grow.
That'll never work, the PETA folks might get upset.
just in case>
The move to eliminate EPA regulations is another example of strategically cunning campaign consultants successfully educating political candidates in the methodology of convincing the eletorate to vote against their own enlightened self-interests. I'm neither a tree hugger nor a enviro-nut, but I recognize bad public policy that is pay back to the big dollar guys who bought themselves an administration when I see it. And attempting to rationalize raw political pay back with some non-existant cloak is sophormoric and transparent. I would have a lot more respect for an administration that simply says: ''We won and we get to give our big dollar supporters something they want that will be really good for their bottom line and shareholders.'' Trying to cover it like a cat in his litter box taints the act with the same smell the litter box emits.
Power to the people!
I would have more respect for you if there was some acknowledgement that all these decisions are trade-offs and that our environment is cleaner now than it has been in decades.
Making everything a crisis and a conspiracy is a hallmark of those advancing tolitarianism.
Right! Now my observatiion premised on a transparent reality is advocacy for tryanny; perhaps the tyranny that I sepnt 30 years of my adult life and spilled blood fighting against. By your definition dissent by Sen. McCain must also advocate tyranny and a totalitarian regime. Is it that anyone who tells about the emperor sans clothes is a dupe of some sinister totalitarian cabal?
Not that reporter. He's a Peta favorite. Google his name and Peta.
As a 10 year vet, I respect your service and sacrifice greater than mine.
However your invective is so over the top --- "big dollar guys who bought themselves an administration when I see it"...... "this administration will do anything and go to any lengths to eliminate any regulatory agency rule or amend any statute to accommodate industry and permit the industry affected".
Sorry, but you have obviously bought into the notion that there are not two sides of the discussion regarding environmental regulation. What do you call people who don't allow that there are two sides to a disagreement?
Visiting a neighbor last weekend in his exclusive neighborhood he pointed out that the vacant lot next to his was a superfund site. I have read that some of these sites are required to have dirt safe to eat.
This kind of regulation has economic impact. Is this a reasonable standard? Some have argued that suburban growth problems and the jobs vacuums in rust belt cities are due to these environmental regulations. Would reasonably easing regulations like this that stifle economic growth in the inner cities bring job growth where it is needed? Or would it just be 'those evil big dollar guys exposing inner city citizens to environmental danger to line their pockets'?
RE Senator McCain, I stand in awe of his service as a POW. But you know I think he has threatened my free speech with his "election reform" bill. Gosh it worked great too didn't it? What a polite and informative election we had last time.
I think you need to chill.