The uncertainty resulted when an Environmental Protection Agency appeals panel on Thursday rejected a federal permit for a Utah plant, leaving the issue for the Obama administration to resolve.Perhaps you remember court decision here in Georgia, where a judge held up a plant in Early County, saying its potential CO2 should be regulated under the clean air act.
The panel said the EPA's Denver office failed to adequately support its decision to issue a permit for the Bonanza plant without requiring controls on carbon dioxide, the leading pollutant linked to global warming. ...
Environmentalists and lawyers representing industry groups said the ruling puts in question permits _ some being considered, others approved but under appeal _ of perhaps as many as 100 coal plants.
"It's going to stop everything while EPA mulls over what to do next" about how the federal Clean Air Act is to be used to control carbon dioxide, said David Bookbinder, a Sierra Club lawyer. "And that will be decided by the next administration."
I asked Neill to pontificate:
I guess you could say that the EPA has effectively, if not officially, confirmed the judgment of Judge Cummings of the Fulton Superior Court in the matter of whether CO2 is a "pollutant" or not.UPDATE: I asked Greg Mullis from Tri-County EMC, which has been trying to get a new coal-fired plant OK'd, to comment. His full remarks appear in the comments for this post, but I wanted to put the bulk of that comment on the front page here:
Now comes the next step, where the EPA has to promulgate rules for regulating CO2. That will prove to be a bloody regulatory battle, enlisting hundreds of lawyers, copy machines, couriers and producers of misleading (T.V.) ads.
The proposed coal plant in Washington Co is the project closest to your newspaper's service area that seems to be affected.
The Early Co. plant is already stopped by the Cummings order, and the sequel of cases that will flow from it. She actually found against the permit on 5 grounds, (I think 5, maybe 4), only one of which was CO2, the others were other pollutants, like particulate matter, that everyone agrees are regulated pollutants, so if the GA Court of Appeals and the GA Supreme Court overturn Cummings on the CO2 issue, there will still need to be a new permit from EPD for the Early Co. project.
That permit could easily be affected by the EPA's new rules. Things are not looking so good for new coal plants.
In Georgia, current projections show a need for an additional 6,000megawatts of electric capacity by the year 2018. Most utilities understand and embrace using conservation and energy efficiency to address as much of these needs as possible. President-elect Obama has clearly indicated his intentions to oppose the construction of any new coal facilities. He has also voiced his intention of implementing a carbon “cap and trade system”, which will place significant new costs on ratepayers. Obama has also indicated opposition to any development of nuclear power plants. The remaining options for generation sources are biomass, with several small plants, totaling less than 500 MW being planned, natural gas, which creates exposure to great price volatility, and other very small Green Power projects. Despite being touted as saviors, wind, solar, and new hydroelectric generation are not options available to Georgians at this time.Greg also has his own blog. So far he's covered politics, religion, photography, mathematical similarities in hit songs and Barack Obama's energy plan. So go check it out.
The hard reality is that power plants take years to plan, permit, and construct. The needs for the future are fairly clear. We need to be building for that future now. Instead, we are waiting for future legislation and yet-to-be inaugurated presidents to decide what to do.