Will the EPA’s New Carbon Rule Survive Judicial Challenge?

From: The Energy Collective

Edward Dodge

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed new carbon emission standards for fossil fuel power plants under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The rules for new-build power plants fall under Section 111(b) and are known as the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). This should not be confused with Section 111(d) that regulates existing power plants. The NSPS for coal power plants are controversial because they require the use of partial Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technology that has not been deployed to date absent government funding.

The EPA has proposed separate technology standards for natural gas and coal fired units based on the performance of advanced Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) power plants. The standard is 1,000-1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. Modern NGCC units easily meet this standard but coal plants can only meet the standard by using Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) with partial CCS which is the most expensive coal technology and one that has yet to be proven commercially viable.

Utility and mining interests have been vocal in their criticisms of the NSPS and they have some potent legal arguments that will be brought forward in a certain legal challenge. The National Mining Association (NMA), among others, will be party to a suit against the EPA. Central to the legal challenge is EPA’s assertion that CCS is the Best System of Emissions Reduction (BSER) and has been adequately demonstrated.

EPA cites five facilities as evidence that CCS is adequately demonstrated. The problem is that none of these five plants necessarily meet the standards. Read Complete Article

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