All the top five stories in Energy and Climate Report for the week ending June 30 covered the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to curtail carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
1. Former EPA Heads Back Power Plant Rule; Congressional Republicans Firmly Opposed
Testimony by former EPA administrators before Congress in support of carbon limits for existing power plants in which they urged opponents to abandon efforts to derail it are covered in this story.
The former administrators, all appointed by Republican presidents, included William Ruckelshaus, the nation's first EPA administrator under President Richard Nixon; Lee Thomas, who was administrator under President Ronald Reagan; William Reilly, who led the EPA under President George H.W. Bush; and Christine Todd Whitman who served as administrator under President George W. Bush.
Republicans said the comments from the former EPA administrators did nothing to diminish concerns that the Obama administration's carbon limits will ultimately raise electricity prices and hurt U.S. economic growth while not addressing the rising emissions from rapidly developing nations such as China, now the world's top greenhouse gas emitter.
2. Australian Official Dismisses Obama Proposal on U.S. Power Plant Emissions as Rhetoric
As covered in this story, Australia's chief trade-deals negotiator has labeled the bid by President Barack Obama to cut U.S. power-plant emissions as lacking substance.
“There's no action associated with it,” Trade Minister Andrew Robb said in a Sky News interview from Houston, where he was accompanying Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Abbott, who is seeking to dismantle Australia's carbon-price mechanism before it hosts Group of 20 leaders in November, isn't supporting Obama's bid to pressure India, China and other nations to help form a worldwide agreement to combat climate change.
“Despite the rhetoric you get over here and all the targets for 30 percent reductions and all this, it's just rhetoric,” Robb said.
3. EPA Official Defends Power Plant Proposal as House Republicans Question Legality
The EPA's top air official told a House subcommittee, as covered in this story, that the agency has the legal authority under a little-used section of the Clean Air Act to issue its carbon dioxide rule for existing power plants.
“What we've done with this rule is completely within the four corners of” Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, Janet McCabe, the EPA acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said the EPA previously has issued performance standards under 111(d) that required emissions reductions at the facility level rather than at the state level. “EPA has never been this extreme under 111(d) before,” Whitfield said. “Instead of the states establishing a performance standard for units within the source category, EPA is now dictating to the states the level of emissions reductions states must meet.”
4. EPA Publishes Power Plant Carbon Dioxide Rules, Beginning 120-Day Comment Period
As detailed in this story, the EPA will be taking comments until Oct. 16 on its proposal published June 18 in the Federal Register to cut carbon dioxide emissions that includes two separate rules, one for existing plants and the other for modified plants.
The proposed carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants would establish unique carbon dioxide emissions rates for the power industry in each state.
The agency also published a proposed rule to establish carbon dioxide emissions standards for modified and reconstructed power plants. The emissions requirements largely would consist of operating practices and equipment upgrades.
5. Republicans Plan Funding Ban to Block EPA's Proposed Greenhouse Gas Rule
Republicans will try to block the EPA's proposed carbon dioxide rules for power plants by denying the funding to implement them, according to remarks—as covered in this story— by a senior member of a U.S. House appropriations panel.
The funding ban “will be in Interior,” Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said, referring to the spending bill being drafted for the Department of Interior and the EPA. Simpson, head of the House's Energy-Water Appropriations subcommittee, formerly was chairman of the Interior and Environment appropriations panel.
“We're going to take a serious look at it,” Rep. Ken Calvert, a California Republican and chairman of the Interior-Environment subcommittee, said. “It wouldn't surprise me” if a funding ban were included in the money bill his panel is crafting, he said. “There's great interest from a lot of members.”
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