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Luminant to Sue EPA Over Cross-Border Pollution Rule

Luminant – Texas’s largest power generator – has announced the shuttering of facilities across the state, and launched a legal challenge against the regulations it blames for the closures: the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

The rule, which the EPA released on July 7, requires Texas power generators to make reductions in emissions beginning January 1, 2012. Luminant has described the reduction targets as “dramatic” and the timescale under which they have to be implemented as “unrealistic.”

Luminant says the rule’s mandates for Texas are unlawful, and filed a legal challenge to the ruling on Monday morning in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The challenge seeks to invalidate the rule’s application to Texas.

According to the power company, a year ago, the EPA’s proposed rule did not include Texas in the annual SO2 and NOx reductions programs. Now, one year later, the rule imposes a 47 percent SO2 reduction and what Luminant describes as “substantial” NOx reductions by Texas sources beginning in January 2012. The rule also requires a 64 percent reduction of SO2 emissions at Luminant’s fossil fuel generating units.

To meet the rule’s requirements, Luminant has decided to idle two generating units in Monticello, Texas, and cease mining Texas lignite at three facilities in Thermo, Winfield and Freestone County, Texas. The closures will cause the loss of about 500 jobs, Luminant says. The company says it will implement several other actions to reduce emissions, including making investments in its facilities.

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2 thoughts on “Luminant to Sue EPA Over Cross-Border Pollution Rule

  1. “The Environmental Protection Agency today finalized widely anticipated Clean Air Act regulations on pollution that crosses state lines” (emphasis mine) – http://www.environmentalleader.com/2011/07/07/epa-unveils-clean-air-transport-rule/

    “This rule replaces EPA’s 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). A December 2008 court decision kept the requirements of CAIR in place temporarily but directed EPA to issue a new rule” – http://www.epa.gov/crossstaterule/ Also, “The benefits of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule far outweigh the costs of the rule”, and “This rule will not disrupt a reliable flow of affordable electricity for American consumers and businesses … and while the effect on prices for specific regions or states may vary, they are well within the range of normal electricity price fluctuations”.

    “This action builds on more than fifteen years of progress in implementing Clean Air Act reductions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX)” – http://www.epa.gov/crossstaterule/pdfs/CSAPRFactsheet.pdf Also from the same site are the following 9 quotes:
    “states where investments in control technology are required also receive large [health] benefits”
    “The first phase of compliance begins January 1, 2012 for SO2 and annual NOX reductions and May 1, 2012 for ozone season NOX reductions. The second phase of SO2 reductions begins January 1, 2014.”
    “The rule allows air-quality-assured allowance trading among covered sources, utilizing an allowance market infrastructure based on existing, successful allowance trading programs … in the same or different states”
    “In response to the court’s direction to replace CAIR as quickly as possible …”
    “The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule includes an expedited process for states to adjust specific aspects of the FIP, such as allowance allocations …”
    “EPA modeling shows that … power plants may achieve the necessary emission reductions”
    “Many areas have already been brought into attainment with these standards”
    “The employment effects of this rule are modest, but by our analysis positive”
    “The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was proposed July 6, 2010”

    All the above quotes amply show that:
    a) the EPA was forced by court order to issue the rule, and to do so as quickly as possible;
    b) everybody knew the rule was coming for more than a year;
    c) the expected health benefits are significant and widespread (including within the states that must comply);
    d) the 1/1/2012 start date is merely the start of the first phase – meaning that the pollution limits are phased in gradually, not all at once;
    e) states and polluting companies can easily meet the reduction goals through a variety of trading and emissions reduction schemes, at their own choice;
    f) the allowance allocations can be re-visited; and
    g) there are no anticipated negative effects on jobs.

    So, exactly how is the EPA being stupid here? Luminant, yes. But the EPA?

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