Exclusive: Report urges Environmental Protection Agency to step up pace of power plant rules
The Environmental Protection Agency is ‘overdue’ on finalizing eight key rules to reduce air pollution, water pollution and global warming emissions from the country’s power plants, according to a report shared first with The Climate 202 ahead of its wider release on Wednesday.
The analysis, which was conducted by the climate advocacy group Evergreen Actionreviewed whether the EPA is on track to finalize 10 power sector regulations by the end of President Bidenfirst term.
If the rules are released in the final days of Biden’s first term, a future Republican-controlled Congress could overturn them using the Congressional Review Actwhich allows lawmakers to abandon any regulation within 60 legislative days of finalizing it by simple majority vote.
After “several delays and missed deadlines”, the report concludes, eight rules could be left unfinished or erased from the books by disapproving lawmakers, while two rules are set to roll out next year.
“Now is the time to sound the alarm that the EPA is falling behind its own proposed timelines for implementing these important rules,” Evergreen’s executive director said. jamal raad said in an interview.
“If they don’t start coming up with these important rules by the end of this year, they won’t be able to finish these rules by the end of the first term, which would be hugely detrimental to delivering on our commitments. on climate and environmental justice,” Raad added.
Asked to comment on the analysis, the EPA spokesperson Tim Carroll said in an email that the agency had already taken “bold action to tackle the climate crisis, protect people’s health and deliver economic benefits” by finalizing tough rules to phase out climate superpollutants and reduce emissions. car exhaust emissions.
“We will continue to act aggressively to advance ambitious proposals that protect people and the planet, building on the momentum provided by Congress in the Cut Inflation Act,” Carroll said. “We are working quickly to develop rules in a way that follows the best available science, respects the law and will stand the test of time.”
The recently enacted climate law, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Actwill put the United States on a path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 from 2005 levels, according to several independent modellers.
Yet Biden has pledged to cut emissions by at least 50% over the next decade. To make up the difference, his administration will need to take bold executive action on climate, activists say.
To that end, the report urges the EPA to propose two rules aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants, which rank as the nation’s second largest contributor to global warming, by the end of this year. According to the administration’s spring regulatory agenda, the agency expects to propose both of these rules by March 2023.
Once finalized, both rules could be challenged in court by Republican-led states or other potential opponents. But the report stresses that the standards would rest on a solid legal basis.
- The Supreme Court ruled in June that the EPA had exceeded its authority to reduce carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act.
- However, the judgment rendered in West Virginia vs. EPA clarified that the agency still has the authority to require “inside the fence” emissions reductions from new and existing power plants under Sections 111(b) and 111(d) of the Act. environment, respectively.
“The federal government has incredible authority under the Clean Air Act,” Raad said. “And contrary to popular opinion, West Virginia vs. EPA has not emptied this authority.
Other air, water standards
The remaining eight rules aim to clean the air and water around power plants, although some would have the added benefit of reducing climate pollution.
- The EPA is on track to finalize an interstate air pollution rule by March and to propose a toxic water pollution rule by November, according to the report.
- But the agency is “dragging its feet” on six additional standards, the report says, including rules to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollutants, limit soot and smog, and regulate the storage of ash. coal.
In March, EPA Administrator Michael Regan strongly affirmed EPA’s commitment to finalizing these remaining rules as part of a broader crackdown on power plant pollution.
“While we continue to see significant leadership from you to reduce pollution, power plants remain the largest stationary sources of harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide,” Regan told CERAWeekan annual energy conference.
“My friends, I have thought long and hard about this,” he said. “I know it’s complex. But we believe there is a way to do it, and it protects public health and continues to give you the certainty you all need to accelerate a clean energy future.
Senate Democrats renew calls for Biden to declare climate emergency
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) led a letter Tuesday urging President Biden building on the climate investments of the Inflation Reduction Act by declaring a national climate emergency.
“We urge you to take the important next step of declaring a climate emergency and unlocking all the tools at your disposal to deal with this crisis,” the letter said, adding that such a declaration would empower federal agencies to pursue regulatory actions “to reduce emissions”. , protect public health, support national and energy security, and improve the quality of our air and water.
In July, Biden considered declaring a climate emergency, but the administration later backed down, in part over fears of disrupting already delicate climate package negotiations with Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.).
Signatories to Tuesday’s letter include Meaning. Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Alex Padille (D-California), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Cory Booker (DN.J.).
Environmental Quality Council Announces New Hires
The White House Council on Environmental Quality announced on Wednesday that four new staff members are joining the agency to strengthen its work on climate change, conservation and environmental justice.
- Crystal Bergemann will join the board as Senior Director of Resilience and focus on protecting communities from the effects of climate-fueled extreme weather. She most recently served as Senior Climate Advisor to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia L. Fudge.
- Jonathan Black will take on a new role as Senior Director of Chemical Safety and Plastic Pollution Prevention. It will focus on protecting communities from toxic “eternal chemicals” known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Black worked most recently in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
- Alyssa Roberts will serve as Director of Communications after three years as a Campaign and Congressional Assistant for Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and a stint as spokesperson for the League of Conservation Voters.
- samar ahmed will take up the position of scheduler and communications assistant after completing a summer internship with the council’s press team.
White House considering controversial gas export ban
White House officials have asked Department of Energy study whether a ban on exports of gasoline, diesel and other refined petroleum products would lead to lower fuel prices, Ari Natter and Jennifer A. Dlouhy reporting for Bloomberg News.
The move comes amid growing concerns that rising gas prices could pose a political problem for Democrats in next month’s midterm elections. The White House The request was described by a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity as she was not authorized to comment publicly.
In a letter Tuesday to the Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholmthe American Petroleum Institute and the American fuel and petrochemical manufacturers urged the administration to take an export ban “off the table.”
“Prohibiting or limiting the export of refined products would likely reduce inventory levels, reduce domestic refining capacity, put upward pressure on consumer fuel prices, and alienate U.S. wartime allies,” they said. writes the professional associations before the crucial meeting on Wednesday. OPEC Plus consortium.
Flooding from Hurricane Ian devastates remote coastal communities
Almost a week later Hurricane Ian made landfall in Fort Myers, several Florida communities more than 150 miles inland remained underwater on Monday, Barbara Liston and Brady Dennis reporting for the Washington Post.
Ian poured biblical amounts of rain into these communities, causing the ponds and streams to swell beyond their banks and turn the streams into rushing rivers. Flood risks for inland communities are only increasing, in part due to climate change, as warming oceans fuel more intense storms with monumental rainfall.
During this time, a National Hurricane Center graph known as the forecast cone, which outlines the path of a storm, is blamed for deaths during Ian, Dance Scott and Amudalat Ajasa report for La Poste.
The tool shows the likely future locations of the center of a storm, which can help residents, first responders and politicians make decisions about preparedness and whether to evacuate. But many people misinterpret the cone and assume the danger is limited to specific areas in a shaded corner of the map. The confusion has prompted some meteorologists and scientists to push the center to update the way it illustrates forecasts.