EPA delays emissions caps for new power plants

The Environmental Protection Agency needs more time and will not meet its one-year deadline to impose the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on new power plants.

“We are working on the rule and no timetable has been set,” EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson wrote in an e-mail Friday. She said the agency was still reviewing more than 2 million comments on its proposal.

The EPA is likely to alter the rule in some way in an effort to ensure that it can withstand a legal challenge, according to sources familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the standard has not been finalized. One possibility could include establishing a separate standard for coal-fired power plants, as opposed to gas-fired ones.

The Washington Post reported a month ago that the agency was likely to delay the rule in order to bolster its legal case for imposing the new carbon restrictions.

The rule, which the EPA proposed a year ago and had an April 13 deadline, would require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.

But some utilities have objected to the restrictions, complaining that even some natural gas plants will not be able to meet the new standards easily.

Environmentalists say they are waiting for a clear signal from the Obama administration on climate. The EPA’s acting administrator, Bob Perciasepe, told reporters this week that the agency will begin working on a rule for existing plants sometime in fiscal 2014, although he did not give a specific timeline for when such an effort would be finished.

Union of Concerned Scientists senior climate economist Rachel Cleetus wrote a blog post Friday emphasizing the importance of finalizing the new carbon limits soon so the agency can move onto capping greenhouse gas emissions from existing plants.

“We know that in the absence of congressional action, this is one of the most important things the administration can do to cut global warming emissions,” she said in an interview. “What we need to hear from them is even with this delay, they have a firm timeline and plan for delivering on the rules for new power plants and existing power plants within this fiscal year. We need to hear those specifics.”

“Missing the deadline is one thing,” Cleetus added, “but if we hear dead silence, that will be truly troubling.”

Jeffrey Holmstead, a partner at the law firm Bracewell &Guiliani who represents utilities affected by the rule, wrote in an e-mail that he was not surprised by the EPA’s decision. “They’re now trying to figure out whether they need to start from scratch and come up with a new proposal, or whether they can finalize some creative version of it without running afoul of the law,” he wrote. “The big problem they face is that the Clean Air Act just wasn’t designed to deal with greenhouse gas emissions.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

The parking lot of a Lynnwood apartment complex in the 19800 block of 50th Avenue West where a man was allegedly stabbed Friday night. (Lynnwood Police)
Lynnwood man arrested for allegedly stabbing acquaintance

They were arguing at an apartment complex and began fighting.

Vincent Cavaleri (City of Mill Creek) 20211025
Mill Creek councilman invites unvaccinated officers to apply

Police said a staffing shortage could become a crisis. So the City Council approved hiring bonuses.

Caregiver charged with raping Everett woman with dementia

A DNA sample found “very strong support” that Kelvin Njeru was the suspect, prosecutors allege.

Buses charge before their next route Friday afternoon at the Everett Transit Center in Everett on October 22, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett to get wireless electric bus chargers via grants

The city is set to benefit from over $2 million in state investments for electric vehicle charging.

Top row (L-R): Brian Saulsman, Jeremiah Campbell and Mary Reule. Bottom row (L-R): Molly Barnes, Janine Burkhardt and Sarah Johnson. Not pictured (and running unopposed): Jennifer Bumpus.
Mandates, critical race theory steal spotlight in Monroe school races

In Snohomish County, school board races have become a proxy for ideological battles. Monroe is a prime example.

Woman, 60, shot after neighbor dispute near Everett

The suspect, 19, confronted the woman with a shotgun, and allegedly shot her.

Top row (L-R): Kim Daughtry, Michele Hampton, Gary Petershagen, Joyce Copley. Bottom row (L-R): Jessica Wadhams, Steve Ewing, Marcus A. Tageant, Joseph Jensen.
In growing Lake Stevens, controversy frames council races

The city is booming with development. Now four incumbents look to fend off challengers.

Top row (L-R): Paul Roberts, Mary Fosse, Paula Rhyne, Greg Lineberry, Don Schwab. Bottom row (L-R):Lacey Sauvageau, Tommie Rubatino, Liz Vogeli, Ben Zarlingo, Demi Chatters.
Who’s running for Everett council? New candidates — a lot of them

Ten people are vying for positions newly defined by districts. Only two are incumbents.

Women say Everett bar owner was ‘a predator for so long’

Christian Sayre, owner of The Anchor Pub, was arrested in a rape investigation. Now women and co-workers are speaking out.

Most Read