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Nebraska sues to block EPA's proposed greenhouse gas standard for new power plants


From the January 21, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published January 21, 2014

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director

The state of Nebraska has filed suit asking a federal court to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel-fired power plants. In determining that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology has been "adequately demonstrated," EPA violated Section 402(i) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which prohibits the agency from considering federally funded projects when determining the appropriate form of control technology, the state said in its Jan. 15 suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.

The proposed greenhouse gas standards are based on three inoperable coal plants that have received more than $2.5 billion in federal subsidies, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said. "The impossible standards imposed by the EPA will ensure no new power plants are built in Nebraska,"  he said. "This federal agency continues to overstep its authority at the detriment of Nebraska businesses."

The proposed rule "does not attempt to resolve the inconsistency with the act’s prohibition against premature regulatory mandates based on the consideration of technology deployment at facilities receiving assistance under the act," Nebraska said in its suit. The proposed rule acknowledges that the projects received Department of Energy grants, but the agency said such government subsidies do not mean the costs of CCS "would otherwise be unreasonable." EPA’s consideration of these facilities’ deployment of CCS is an unlawful final agency action, the suit said.

EPA relied on other evidence besides the three federally subsidized CCS projects to determine that the technology is adequately demonstrated, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in response to a question from Sen. David Vitter, R-La., at a Jan. 16 Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.

 

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