Friday, March 17, 2006

Court Rules Against Bush Administration on New Source Review

From Greenwire (subscription required):

One of U.S. EPA's most controversial overhauls to the Clean Air Act program was deemed illegal today by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously rejected EPA's changes to the New Source Review program. Judge Judith Rogers, lead author of the 20-page opinion, said EPA's August 2003 rule changes violated the air pollution law.

The ruling is a major victory for New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) and the coalition of states, large and small cities and environmentalists that has opposed the Bush administration's air pollution policies. The groups sued EPA immediately after it completed the rules, and they scored an early victory in December 2003 when the court issued a temporary injunction that halted their implementation.
This is huge. More later.

UPDATE: More from the Washington Post:
Scott H. Segal, a spokesman for a Washington-based coalition of power companies called the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, called the decision "a step backward in the protection of air quality in the United States," AP reported. According to the group's Web site, the Clean Air Act requirement in question "is threatening the reliability of our national electrical system and unnecessarily increasing the cost of power to American consumers and businesses, while providing no additional protection to the environment."

The states that sued the EPA over the proposed rule change were New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Backing them were officials representing the cities of Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco.
We'll be keeping an eye on this.

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2 comments:

Starvid, Sweden said...

What effect will this have on the current fleet of coal plants?

I guess all new American coal plants are as high tech as possible, with scrubbers and urea et cetera?

Anonymous said...

The reporting on this is very misleading. This ruling affects the ability to make capital improvements (that can include power uprates) to old plants without bringing them up to new standards. Many of the stories claim that the proposed rules would allow plants to increase pollution. This is only true in that a capacity increase could have been implemented meeting original emission requirements so the total emissions could increase. In actual practice, newer technology almost always would result in lowered emissions but would not meet current new facility standards.

Some industry sources speculate that old plants will continue to run with original technology but with no upgrades and the net result could be higher overall emissions. Some of these units are over 50 years old and may run for a long time.