EPAcalypse Now: Lights Out in 2012?

The National Mining Association last week asked the Obama EPA to reconsider its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) citing the agency’s failure to adequately consider electric reliability. While this may sound boring, if you like electricity and don’t want to be without air conditioning in future heat waves, you ought to read it.

NMA made five points in its petition:

  1. EPA failed to assess the cumulative impacts of all its power sector rules;
  2. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says EPA wrongly assumes that power flows freely within broad geographic regions of the country;
  3. FERC has not yet assessed the impacts of the EPA’s rules;
  4. FERC says that, because of the EPA’s expedited compliance timeframe (i.e., Jan. 1, 2012), utilities may not have enough lead-in time to replace lost generation capacity;
  5. There is no public record of any substantive discussions EPA staff held with agenices responsible for grid reliability like FERC, state public utilities commissions and the North American Electric Reliability Council.

NMA observes:

Unfortunately, the [EPA] appears unwilling to legitimately grapple with the reliability issue and the predictable results of its deliberate policy to reduce the usage of coal as a fuel source — that is a weakened, less reliable and more expensive electric supply for this country. The recent events that led to widespread outages for about 1.5 million people across portions of Arizona, Southern California and Northern Mexico, following widespread outages in the Southwest because of cold conditions last winter, underscore that the electric grid is frailer than EPA appreciates and that local impacts could have cascading effects. It is bad enough when the light go off because of a natural disaster such as Hurricance Irene; it would be a failing of of government regulation of the first order if the country experiences blackouts because EPA did not take the time to consult with FERC and others to adequately consider the reliability of its regulations.


6 thoughts on “EPAcalypse Now: Lights Out in 2012?”

  1. I think that the “people” are not going to “get it” till thier OWN
    power is shut down. I would not like to see this, but belive it would produce a shift in the “true believers”

  2. The problem is the the CSAPR is unecessarily strict and rushed. There really isn’t any need to shut down power plants to reduce sulfer and NOx emissions. Even if there was a demonstrated need to regulate these emissions (I completely discount the modelling results), the reductions can take place at a reasonable pace over the next five years. The courts required the EPA to consider these cross-state emissions (in and of itself not a bad thing), not to have ridiculously short deadlines.

  3. The die is cast. EPA is under court order to issue interstate transport regulations to replace the vacated and remanded CAIR issued under the Bush administration. CSAPR is supposed to meet the requirements of the statute. Assuming it does (in court), the only other issue is the timing for compliance. EPA told Texas that compliance was not required until Jan 2013. But the entire industry says it is plainly Jan 2012. (Even if it is Jan 2013 that is not sufficient time to install very expensive FGD and/or SCR technology.)

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