Clean Air Act
On Nov. 21, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will not meet a December 15, 2011, deadline to issue new regulations under the Clean Air Act limiting greenhouse gas emissions from oil refineries. The deadline was imposed as part of a settlement agreement with several states and environmental groups in December 2010. The agency says it needs more time to prepare new source performance standards and is in negotiations to set a new deadline.
This announcement comes after a recent EPA decision to delay the release of its greenhouse gas performance standards for power plants, previously scheduled for September 30 (after a postponement of the original July 26 deadline earlier in the year).
On December 30, 2011, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay against implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The CSAPR sets emissions budgets for 28 states whose emissions of SO2, NOx, and/or ozone currently represent a significant impediment to another state’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) attainment in an average year. The rule was finalized by EPA on August 8, 2011, with technical revisions proposed on October 6, 2011, and was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2012.
The case in which the stay was issued, EME Homer City Generation LP v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 11-1302, is one of more than three dozen lawsuits challenging the CSAPR. Oral argument has not been scheduled, but the order indicates that the parties should prepare briefs for an April hearing. The stay order does not address the underlying merits of the case, only the issue of irreparable harm. Although the court did not spell out its reasoning, the plaintiffs had argued that the EPA’s six-month compliance timeline imposes a substantial and imminent injury.
The CSAPR replaces the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which was struck down in North Carolina v. EPA on the grounds that CAIR’s region-wide cap-and-trade structure did not address the effects of emissions from each particular state on downwind states. (531 F.3d 896 (D.C. Cir. 2008)). CSAPR seeks to address the defect in CAIR by placing strict limits on interstate trading of emissions allowances, along with other safeguards to ensure that upwind state emissions of SO2, NOx, and ozone do not significantly contribute to nonattainment of the NAAQS in a downwind state.
Under the August 8 CSAPR, Tradable emissions allowances are initially allocated under Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) to existing units in proportion to their historical heat input values, with a small portion set aside for new units. States can replace these FIP allocations with State Implementation Plans (SIPs) beginning in 2013.
EPA estimates that the CSAPR will reduce emissions of CO2 from electric generating units (EGUs) by about 25 million metric tons (about 1.1% of total domestic electricity sector emissions) annually once fully implemented in 2014, mostly via accelerating retirement of inefficient EGUs.
States and Provinces Form North America 2050 Initiative to Coordinate on Climate Change and Clean EnergySubmitted by Chris Coil on Wed, 2012-01-11 11:48
A broad group of U.S. states and Canadian provinces have formed the North America 2050 Initiative (NA 2050) to facilitate efforts to design, promote and implement cost-effective policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create economic opportunities.
According to an article in BNA Daily Environment Report:
The forum grew out of an effort that began in 2009 when representatives of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the East, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), and the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (Midwest Accord) teamed up to share information, Doug Scott, former director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and representative to the Midwest Accord, told BNA Nov. 23. … “There are a lot of reasons for states to work together on climate and energy policies,’’ Scott said. “The ability to promote energy efficiency and create jobs’’ is something all states can get behind. (North America 2050 Initiative Created For State Collaboration on Climate, Energy, BNA Daily Environment Report, Nov. 28, 2011) (subscription required).
All of the states that previously participated in regional organizations (the Western Climate Initiative, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) that addressed climate change and energy issues are expected to continue working together through NA 2050. The initiative is open to all U.S. states, Canadian provinces, and Mexican states committed to policies that move their jurisdictions toward a low-carbon economy while creating jobs, enhancing energy independence and security, protecting public health and the environment, and demonstrating climate leadership. The Georgetown Climate Center is one of multiple organizations staffing this effort.
The goals of the initiative are to:
- Coordinate efforts to design, promote and implement effective and cost-effective policies;
- Advocate for the most appropriate roles for federal, state, and provincial governments;
- Achieve meaningful emission reductions; and
- Demonstrate the economic and job creation benefits of policies.
The initiative envisions the creation of seven work groups:
- Benefits Working Group: Evaluating the benefits of policies and programs for moving to a low-carbon economy
- Power Sector 2050 Working Group: Understanding, influencing and preparing for section 111 Clean Air Act requirements for electricity generation
- Industry 2050 Working Group: Developing benchmarking approaches to encourage industrial energy efficiency, beginning by understanding, influencing and preparing for section 111 Clean Air Act requirements for refineries
- Sequestration Working Group: Exploring regulatory, technical and policy issues surrounding carbon capture and sequestration
- Sustainable Biomass Working Group: Understanding and supporting the use of sustainably harvested biomass fuels which have the potential to displace high carbon fuels used by stationary and industrial sources
- Offsets Working Group: Participate in the development and implementation of high quality offsets that may be used in emissions trading programs or for other purposes
- Linking Working Group: Work on issues related to administrative and policy linking of emissions trading programs as needed in the future