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EPA faces possible suits to force issuance of greenhouse gas standards for power plants

From the April 19, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published April 19, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director

Having missed an April 13 deadline to issue a final rule limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency now faces possible lawsuits to force the agency to produce a final rule. A coalition of states and cities this week sent EPA a formal notice of intent to sue within 60 days unless the agency issues final standards for new power plants and emission guidelines for existing plants. Separately, three environmental groups filed a notice of intent to sue to force issuance of final standards for new plants. The agency has no timetable for publishing the final rule for new plants, a spokeswoman said.

"EPA’s failure to finalize the proposed standards for new power plants has prevented EPA from fulfilling its mandatory duty to publish emission guidelines covering greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, which are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, said the states of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, plus the District of Columbia and New York City, in their April 17 notice. "EPA’s continuing failure to publish these guidelines is contrary to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act and the regulations implementing that section."

In an April 15 notice, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council said a lawsuit would be necessary due to EPA's "unreasonable delay" in issuing the final standards for new fossil-fired plants.

As proposed last March, the Clean Air Act rule would limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants to 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour. The agency said it received more than 2 million comments on its proposal and is still working on the rule. The delay has fueled speculation that EPA will revamp the proposal, perhaps by setting separate standards for coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants.

EPA acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe told reporters the agency would begin working with states in 2014 on greenhouse gas emissions from existing plants, but the agency subsequently said it has no plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing plants, Midwest Energy News reported.


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro