CHALLENGERS OPEN FIRE ON EPA NEW PLANT CARBON RULE: The states and companies challenging EPA’s 111(b) regulation opened fire last night on the rule, which sets carbon dioxide limits for new coal and gas power plants. The new plant rule was finalized in August 2015 at the same time as the Clean Power Plan, the companion rule covering existing plants. But the CPP legal challenge was put on a fast track (high-profile oral arguments were held last month) while this case is taking a more typical route through the courts. The Clean Air Act’s wording means that if the 111(b) rule is struck down, the Clean Power Plan is out as well.
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Two dozen state challengers charged EPA with having an “agenda to eliminate coal-fired power plants … by virtue of an impossibly high technology standard.” The limit for new coal plants requires using technologies that are not all used together at any commercial plant in the world, they argue. “Much like the griffin, which combines parts of the bodies of different animals into one mythical creature, EPA’s BSER does not exist in the integrated form mandated by the agency anywhere in the world, and the closest analogues are either small-scale plants or plants that receive significant government funding.” In their own brief, the non-state challengers — including coal producer Murray Energy, a swath of utility and co-op groups and the United Mine Workers of America — reiterate those arguments.
Meanwhile, North Dakota wrote separately from the other state challengers so it could specifically attack the rule’s treatment of lignite, the lowest-energy class of coal that is “invariably” burned at power plants adjacent to the mines because lignite’s lower energy density means higher transportation costs. North Dakota is uniquely reliant on lignite, which supplies 99.4 percent of its fossil fuel electricity. EPA’s limit of 1,400 lbs CO2/MWh can’t be met by new lignite power plants, the state argues. “That makes the Rule invalid, because this Court has held that performance standards must meet those requirements as applied to the entire source category — here, coal-fueled EGUs, including lignite-fueled units.”
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- On October 14, 2016