Environmentalists and industry advocates who battle constantly on climate change issues have found common ground.
Both sides agree that U.S. EPA intends to promulgate a rule limiting emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from existing power plants.
As evidence, both point to the proposed emissions rule released last month for new power plants that refers in several places to a future standard for existing emission sources.
The proposed new-source standard — 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour — doesn’t apply to existing power plants that are modified to comply with other air pollution rules and increase CO2 emissions, EPA explains on page 52 of the proposed rule, because “those projects would involve equipment changes to improve efficiency to meet the requirements of a future [Clean Air Act, Section] 111(d) rulemaking for existing sources.”
And EPA says on page 268 that in addition to limiting greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants, the proposed new source rule “serves as a necessary predicate for the regulation of existing sources within this source category under section 111(d).”
The Office of Management and Budget appears to have trimmed other, more explicit references to EPA’s future plans that were part of the rule when it arrived for review at the White House.
Left on OMB’s cutting-room floor: “At a future date, EPA intends to promulgate emission guidelines for states to develop plans reducing CO2 emissions from existing fossil-fuel-fired” power plants.
EPA officials have been as vague in recent months, with Administrator Lisa Jackson and air chief Gina McCarthy insisting on Capitol Hill, in blog posts and elsewhere that the agency has “no plans” to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.
But EPA is required to do just that under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act. And environmentalists — including groups that have sued EPA to regulate CO2 — have expressed no concern that that agency might renege on its court-ordered agreement to introduce new source performance standards for new and existing power plants and petroleum refineries…