Tag: EPA

Rep. Scalise, Sen. Capito introduce Legislation to Improve Air Permitting

Last week, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced H.R. 2557/S. 1425, the “Promoting New Manufacturing Act,” in the House and Senate. The NAM has been a longtime supporter of this bill, on which we testified and supported with a Key Vote Letter in the 113th Congress.

The Promoting New Manufacturing Act would make a series of relatively simple enhancements to the air permitting process to enable manufacturers to get their permits quicker while allowing the EPA to continue to protect the environment. It would create a permitting dashboard, requiring EPA to publish information on the regarding the estimated number of permits issued annually and timelines for making final permit decisions; it would require that if the EPA Administrator establishes or revises a national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), the agency publish implementing regulations and guidance at the same time, including information regarding the submittal and consideration of preconstruction permit applications; and it would require EPA to report annually to Congress on actions being undertaken by the agency to expedite the processing of permit applications. (continue reading…)

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House Hearing Underscores Broad Impact of Ozone Rule

Wyoming has a population of about 584,000 covering 97,814 square miles. About the same number of people are crammed into Manhattan below midtown, an area that can be covered on foot over the course of a day. Where Wyoming has the Snake River Canyon, Manhattan has a river of cars snaking through canyons of skyscrapers.

It is easy to appreciate how New York City might have difficulty meeting federal ground-level ozone standard but, incredibly, there is one area in Wyoming’s vast expanse in non-compliance as well, the Upper Green River Basin. And while the area has some industrial activity, with a population of only about 10,000 people, the biggest driver of its ozone levels is geography—it is surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides. Its micro-conditions make it susceptible to having higher levels of ground-level ozone. (continue reading…)

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FACT CHECK: EPA’s Legal Footing

“I would not recommend, and I am confident that the Administrator would not sign, a final rule that the EPA did not believe was on firm legal footing and worthy of being upheld by the federal courts. In light of that, the effect of the draft bill would be a wholly unnecessary postponement of reductions of harmful air pollution,” said Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) Acting Air Chief Janet McCabe.

The statement above was given in a congressional hearing, while under oath to members of Congress who were debating draft legislation that would restore some regulatory certainty for businesses and state governments by delaying implementation of EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation for the existing power sector until after the inevitable legal challenges are resolved. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturers Like Caterpillar Leading the Way in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Lost in most of the policy discussions about greenhouse gases (GHG) in Washington, is the fact that the U.S. manufacturers are already leading the world in reducing emissions. Through manufacturing ingenuity and a commitment to environmental stewardship, manufacturers have reduced their annual carbon dioxide emissions by over 10 percent from 2005 levels. Manufacturers have also been integral in helping lower the United States’ total annual carbon emissions by nearly 700 million tons over the same time period–more than any other country in the world. (continue reading…)

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Administration’s Climate Plan to UN a Reminder of What’s at Stake for Manufacturers

The Administration’s submission of its Climate Change Plan to the United Nations today is a reminder of the complex nature of global greenhouse gas (GHG) politics, economics and realities, and what is at stake for the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. Manufacturers want a strong international agreement that includes binding commitments from all major emitting nations.

First, as is graphically represented on Page One of the Plan, the United States is already leading the world in reducing GHG emissions. Since 2005, no country has reduced its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than the United States—nearly 700 million tons of C02 or a reduction of close to 12 percent. U.S. manufacturers are leading the way, producing more efficient and lower emitting cars, trucks and machines; creating new and innovative products to increase the energy efficiency of houses, buildings and factors; and unlocking new technologies to generate more power with fewer emissions. Since 2005, carbon emissions from manufacturers and other industrial facilities have fallen by more than 10 percent. This progress will continue, as manufacturers are driven by a commitment to environmental sustainability and recognition that reducing emissions is good for the bottom line—more efficient factories have fewer emissions and lower costs.  (continue reading…)

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Cost Consideration: Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Michigan v. EPA

Today the Supreme Court hears arguments in Michigan v. EPA, to resolve whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must consider costs when deciding whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.

It’s surprising that an agency would not consider costs when deciding how to regulate. We could make cars safer by requiring that they be made like tanks. We could reduce hospital infections by requiring hazmat-style protective equipment.  But alternatives like these are usually not appropriate. It is more reasonable to approach every regulation by weighing its unique costs and benefits. (continue reading…)

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Local Governments Weigh In on Proposed Ozone Standards

The outcry over the EPA’s proposed ground-level ozone standards continues with representatives of the nation’s mayors, counties, cities and regions adding their voices to the debate in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy this week.

In the letter dated March 17, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, and National Association of Regional Councils, detail the impact the most expensive rule in U.S. history will have on local governments.  These four organizations collectively represent 19,000 cites and mayors, 3,069 counties and over 500 regional councils. (continue reading…)

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Senate Leader Takes Action on GHG Regs

Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY )introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution disapproving of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for new power plants. It has now been almost two years since the Administration first proposed requiring carbon capture and sequestration at all new coal-fired power plants. And for two years the manufacturers of CCS systems and the utilities that will ultimately be responsible for installing the systems have consistently articulated that the technology is not ready.

Through official comments in rulemaking, congressional testimony and meetings with regulators the messages have been consistent: 1. we need more time to develop the technology; and 2. establishing these regulations as they are written will halt the development of the next generation of power plant technologies in the United States, ceding these technologies to our international competitors.

It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but manufacturers are glad to see that Senator McConnell is not backing down. With the right policies in place, U.S. manufacturers will develop the technologies that lead to a sustainable energy future.

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Analysis Shows Costs of Proposed EPA Overreach

Last week, Bloomberg BNA obtained a leaked copy of the EPA/Army Corp of Engineers’ cost-benefit analysis on the draft Waters of the United States rule. The draft analysis looks at the costs of implementing new rules that expand federal jurisdiction and the benefits to be gained. Manufacturers are more than a little skeptical of this analysis and believe the EPA/Corps have underestimated the costs and over valued the benefits. For example, nowhere in the study does the EPA or the Corps discuss the costs of delays in projects and the inevitable cost of citizen suits as a result of the expanded jurisdiction.

On the other hand, the analysis acknowledges that the costs will rest squarely on the shoulders of landowners, natural resource extraction companies, developers, states, local governments and tribes investing in infrastructure, and manufacturers. These costs will come in the form of higher permit fees, additional permits and additional mitigation costs.

The EPA and the Corp continue to seek to expand their jurisdiction over waters that have typically not been under their purview.  Upon hearing the words “navigable waters” one conjures up the image of ships, barges, tankers, sail boats, canoes, rowboats, perhaps even a raft, but the EPA has long ago moved past traditional navigable waters in terms of their jurisdiction. They are looking at such things as tributary streams both natural and artificial, farm ponds, ephemeral streams, and water flow of all kinds.  They want to regulate all ponds, lakes and wetlands regardless of how tenuous their proximity might be to navigable waters.

If finalized, this rule will give the EPA and the Corps the ability to regulate virtually any body of water and claim there is a nexus to navigable waters. Manufacturers strongly opposed the rule in this form.

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Why EPAct 2005 May Invalidate EPA’s GHG Regulations

On Friday November 15 Congressmen Upton, Scalise, Whitfield and Barton sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy identifying a section of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) that could invalidate EPA’s September GHG proposed regulation for new power plants. At issue is the agency’s identification of three U.S. projects participating in the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) to make the determination that CCS is an “adequately demonstrated” technology.

The CCPI is intended to help bring advanced coal technologies, like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), to the point that they are commercially viable. The Department of Energy (DOE), the agency that administers CCPI, described the intention of the program in its 2009 Funding Announcement after passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

“By overcoming technical risks associated with bringing advanced technology to the point of commercial readiness, the CCPI accelerates the development of new coal technologies for power and hydrogen production, contributes to proving the feasibility of integrating carbon dioxide (CO2) management and power production and facilitates the movement of technologies into the marketplace that are emerging from the core research and development activities.” U.S. Department of Energy, Financial Assistance Funding Opportunity Announcement, Clean Coal Power Initiative – Round 3 (June 9, 2009).

CCPI is starting to pay dividends as several U.S. projects are utilizing the program to help advance promising technologies, like CCS. Three projects of particular note include:

  • Southern Company’s Kemper County Energy Facility in Kemper County, Mississippi
  • Texas Clean Energy Project in Odessa, Texas
  • Hydrogen Energy California Project in western Kern County, California

These three projects could be the first utility scale power plant projects in the United States to deploy CCS. They also happen to be the three U.S. projects that EPA pointed to in their proposed GHG rule for new power plants to conclude that CCS is an adequately demonstrated technology – a necessary finding before it can require the use of the technology in these regulations.

Here is the hitch: EPAct 2005 contains explicit language stating that projects receiving assistance through CCPI cannot be the sole factor in determining that a technology is adequately demonstrated for the purposes of these particular regulations.

Some have argued that the EPAct language only bars the use of CCPI projects if they are the only basis for the adequately demonstrated determination. They point out that EPA relied on others factors like industry experience capturing CO2 and technical studies in proclaiming CCS commercially viable. While examples of similar albeit different industrial processes and technical studies have played a role in advancing CCS technologies for power plants to where they are today, the best and most logical basis for determining commercial readiness would be actual deployment the technology. In EPA’s GHG rule for new power plants, the agency relies on still-in-development projects that are participating in a DOE program specifically intended for technologies that are not yet commercially viable, and certainly not adequately demonstrated.

At some point simple logic has to win the day. In this case, neither logic nor law supports EPA’s determination that CCS has been adequately demonstrated. If this interpretation is correct, the September 20, 2013 proposed GHG regulation for new power plants, the first major component of the President’s Climate Action Plan, would be void.

It is time for the Administration to reevaluate the path it is pursuing under this regulatory regime. There is limited environmental benefit and considerable societal costs to the perpetual regulatory uncertainty caused by trying to expand the limits of regulatory authority.

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