There’s no question that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power plant agenda – designed to prematurely retire coal power plants – is going to imperil U.S. grid reliability. And this blog has outlined how EPA’s proposals have exceeded the agency’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act.
Looking at the facts, this blog has politely called the EPA’s Clean Power Plan 2.0 “uninformed.” But we’re always the first to raise our hand to correct the record when we’re wrong and, in this case, we were wrong. It turns out the EPA was veryinformed – in fact, it was informed by people from within the Biden administration – about the flaws with the draft rule and exactly where the rule overstepped the EPA’s authority.
How so? Let’s turn back to last Friday, when House Republicans highlighted comments from within the Biden administration that have just now become public. Those comments specifically question the viability of a key part of the Clean Power Plan 2.0, noting that the rule did not meet the requisite standards for new emissions rules. The Clean Air Act allows for the development of new emissions standards, but also requires the EPA to consider whether the new requirements are both proven and achievable at a reasonable cost (referred to as “the best system of emission reduction” or BSER).
According to the House letter to the EPA, comments that have recently been revealed to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability show that Biden administration officials commented on the EPA’s draft rule:
“(CCUS) has not yet met the legal threshold for being considered a BSER since it has not been adequately demonstrated. …CCUS remains prohibitively expensive even after use of funds or tax credits made available through the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Note that the commenter didn’t say, “there could be a problem;” they said quite pointedly the technology in the rule “has not met the legal threshold” required. Apparently this is just one of more than 600 comments that EPA produced to the Committee that identify “extensive problems” with the rule. And consider, this is just what EPA produced for the Committee. Likely a drop in the bucket of overflowing concerns about the EPA’s approach.
This week the Senate picked up the thread with Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) writing to the EPA,
“…the Agency’s proposal is unachievable, uneconomic, and unreasonable for small and large electric generating units (EGUs) alike given that the emissions control technologies mandated are currently inadequately demonstrated. Further, the proposed Clean Power Plan 2.0 fails to sufficiently consider the serious reliability concerns already raised by stakeholders, regulators, and independent experts. Changes by the Agency to the modeling underlying the rule, as well as information and comments furnished by third parties since the initial comment period closed that are discussed further below, clearly demonstrate that the EPA’s proposal is unjustifiable.”
No fuzz on that.
The letter goes on to detail the exhaustive warnings not just that the Clean Power Plan 2.0 can’t work legally – but that it plainly doesn’t work with the electricity grid we have. This is a rule that is roundly alarming state, regional, and federal regulators and experts across the country. Those outside alarms have been expressed time and time again in congressional hearings. But we now know this rule shouldn’t have even made it to the starting point because the EPA and Biden administration officials knew about its fatal flaws from the beginning.
With what we now know – and what it seems the EPA knew all along – the only choice is for the EPA to rescind its Clean Power Plan 2.0 proposal.
- On December 20, 2023