EPA, Environmental Groups Agree to Extend Deadline for Power Plant Rule Until Sept. 30

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The Environmental Protection Agency, states, and environmental groups agreed June 13 to a two-month postponement of the agency's deadline to propose greenhouse gas emissions limits on new and modified power plants, an agency spokesman said.

EPA now must propose new source performance standards for greenhouse gases from power plants by Sept. 30 as part of a settlement with the states and environmental groups. The original deadline to issue the proposed rule was July 26, but EPA has not yet sent a proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review (110 DEN A-5, 6/8/11).

The extension will not affect the deadline to issue the final rule, which is due May 26, 2012.

“EPA has engaged in an extensive and open public process to gather the latest and best information prior to proposing carbon pollution standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants, one of the largest stationary sources of carbon pollution,” EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said in a statement June 13. “Through this process—which included listening sessions with the business community, states and others— a wide range of stakeholders have presented the agency with important input which deserves to be fully considered as the agency works to develop smart, cost-effective and protective standards.”

In December 2010, EPA agreed to issue the greenhouse gas standards for both power plants and petroleum refineries, settling two lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit filed by states and environmental groups .

One of the settlements requires EPA to issue the performance standards for power plants (New York v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 06-1322, settlement reached 12/23/10).

No Change in Rest of Schedule

David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center, told BNA the environmental groups agreed to the extension because “there is no change in the rest of the schedule.”

“They asked for this short extension in order to do a thorough, well-thought out job to get this proposal done,” he said.

The extension will not affect EPA's deadline to propose performance standards for petroleum refineries by Dec. 15 as part of a separate settlement. That agreement requires EPA to issue the final petroleum refinery rule by Nov. 15, 2012 (American Petroleum Institute v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 08-1277, settlement reached 12/23/10).

New source performance standards are technology-based emissions limits issued under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act that apply to new and modified facilities in a specific industrial sector.

The new source standards are a set of rules distinct from those now in effect to control greenhouse gases from large industrial sources. Currently, EPA only requires the largest industrial facilities to obtain prevention of significant deterioration permits under new source review provisions of the Clean Air Act when they expand or make modifications that increase emissions.

Those permits require the facilities to install best available control technology, which is determined for each individual facility, while the performance impose uniform emissions limits for the industry nationwide.

By Andrew Childers

The original power plant settlement is available at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/pdfs/boilerghgsettlement.pdf .