Out-going EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson recently issued a memorandum setting an agency-wide policy that prohibits controls on CO2 emissions from being included in air permits, coal-fired power plants and other facilities. Johnson states air permits issued under the Clean Air Act cannot require limits on greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, since there are currently no regulations on greenhouse gases.
The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog wrote that the memorandum overturn the Environmental Appeals Board finding concerning the Deseret Power Electric Cooperative which allowed Region 8 to include limits on greenhouse gases in a Clean Air Act permit.
The blog says several power plants have lined up seeking Clean Air Act permits, and with the memorandum in place, those permits may not include greenhouse gas limits, putting the plants’ permits beyond the reach of the incoming Obama Administration.
Issuing the memorandum now, one month before a new administration takes office, was the Administrator’s choosing, making at the very least seem like he meant to ensure that power plants receive Clean Air Act permits without carbon dioxide limits until the Obama Administration can pass climate change regulations as the Supreme Court requires in Massachusetts v. EPA.