As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan unveiled in June, his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandating exorbitant and punitive limits on power plant carbon emissions. The EPA unveiled its proposal in September to restrict new power plants to technologically impossible standards of carbon dioxide generation and capture.
The announcement has brought down a storm of criticism from industry and public officials. “Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that is technologically impossible,” countered U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He warned, “If these regulations go into effect, American jobs will be lost, electricity prices will soar, and economic uncertainty will grow.”
“The Obama Administration must think our country ... can operate on windmills,” quipped U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), calling the new regulations “one more big, wet blanket on the American economy.”
The new rules would require future coal-fired plants to release no more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, down from almost 1,800 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour for the average conventional facility. They would also mandate that new plants capture their emissions, a feat requiring technology still in its infancy.
Indiana Manufacturers Association President and CEO Patrick J. Kiely said the new regulations “will create a man-made energy crisis” that could shut down manufacturing, while National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons dubbed Obama’ a “misguided vision” and called on Congress “to set firm limitations on how the agency uses the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.”
Unwilling to await congressional action, NAM has joined forces with other industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute to challenge the EPA’s so-called greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. Though the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, its October 15 order stipulates the review will be limited to whether the EPA is permitted to regulate GHG emissions for stationary sources — as opposed to motor vehicles — under the Clean Air Act.
The court refused other petitions to challenge its own 2007 decision that the EPA has a “statutory obligation” to regulate GHGs or to dispute whether GHGs should be classified as pollutants. These refusals have prompted environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund, to declare early victory, while Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) Executive Vice President Michael Whatley told The New American, “There are still a number of regulations EPA is working on that target coal-fired electricity. We need to continue a grassroots campaign in the States to ensure a continued supply of affordable, reliable electricity into the future.”
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Photo: American Electric Power