Clean Air Act Digest, 9.23.13
After two weeks of attempting, without success, to come to agreement on a list of amendments to consider, the Senate set aside the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill (S. 1392) late last week. S. 1392, a bipartisan, consensus-based energy efficiency bill supported by a wide range of stakeholders along with the Obama Administration, would save consumers money and cut pollution. However, the Republican leadership wanted to vote on a number of highly controversial amendments—some of them not at all related to the bill—even after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed to a vote on Obamacare and another that would deem the Keystone XL pipeline in national interest. It is unclear as to when or if the bill will return to the floor, as Senators have now turned their attention to enacting a stopgap spending bill by the end of the month.
As the end of the federal fiscal year approaches on September 30, House Republicans on Friday, September 20, approved a Continuing Resolution (on an almost party-line vote of 230-189). It is widely anticipated that this bill will not pass the Senate, nor be signed by the President, setting the stage for a possible federal government shut-down on October 1. The Continuing Resolution, H.J. Res. 59, would continue current funding levels through December 15, 2013; it also defunds the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). With this bill on its way to the Senate, House Republicans are preparing a bill to raise the debt ceiling that would include a number of highly controversial provisions, possibly including provisions to hamper and or completely block Clean Air Act protections, including carbon pollution standards.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee majority is working on legislation that would restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate coal-fired power plants. The committee plans to release the bill before November, and Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), plans to hold a hearing shortly on the Environmental Protection Agency’s release of the proposed standards for new power plants.
On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a revised proposal for standards to limit dangerous carbon pollution from new power plants. This is the first big step to implement President Obama’s ambitious Climate Action Plan, announced in June. Right now there is no limit on how much carbon power plants can pump into our atmosphere. America has already set standards for arsenic, mercury, and lead pollution. It’s time to do the same with dangerous carbon emissions, and the standards proposed last week will get us going.
When the EPA proposed its first draft of the standards in 2012, it received more than 3.2 million comments in favor of curbing carbon pollution from power plants—the most the agency has ever received on any issue in its history.
Under this new proposal, new plants will have to limit their carbon pollution to virtually the same levels as EPA proposed in 2012. For large new combined-cycle gas plants–the predominant type being built–the standard will be 1000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity generation (lbs/MWh). Smaller combined-cycle gas plants will be allowed 1100 lbs/MWh. And new coal plants will also be limited to 1100 lbs/MWh, a level that can be met with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
Friday’s announcement also signals that EPA is on track to carry out the next step in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, developing carbon pollution standards for existing power plants, by next June. Last month, EPA kicked off an ambitious drive to engage states, industry, environmentalists, and others in the nuts and bolts of developing effective, flexible standards for existing plants.
Poll after poll shows Americans support limits on carbon pollution. A July survey conducted by Hart Research for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 65 percent of Americans endorse setting limits on carbon pollution from power plants. This includes 49 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents, and 84 percent of Democrats. Many civil society organizations and members of Congress released reactions to the announcement on Friday. Select reactions and related resources can be found on the USCAN Carbon Pollution Standards webpage.
Add your Voice: Demand Limits to Carbon Pollution from New Power Plants
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released a revised proposal to reduce carbon pollution from new power plants. This is an important step in protecting American families from harmful, unregulated carbon pollution and protecting the future of our planet.
Join the 3.2 million voices that have already urged the EPA to support a limit on carbon pollution!
Demand Limits to Carbon Pollution, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Action Alert
Fight Back Against Climate-Destroying Carbon Pollution, Sierra Club Action Alert
Stand Up to Big Polluters: Support the EPA’s Action on Climate Change, League of Conservation Voters Action Alert
2013 Proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Description on Webpage, 9.20.13
Proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants, Environmental Protection Agency Draft Standards, 9.20.13
EPA Fact Sheet: Reducing Carbon Pollution from Power Plants, Environmental Protection Agency Fact Sheet, 9.20.13
Time to Act on Climate Change, Huffington Post Blog by Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, 9.20.13
A Climate Breakthrough: EPA Releases New Carbon Limits for New Power Plants, Natural Resources Defense Fund Blog, 9.20.13
EPA Launches Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants, First Step in President Obama’s Plan to Protect Our Kids and Grandkids from Dangerous Climate Change, Natural Resources Defense Council Blog, 9.20.13
Statement on EPA’s Proposal to Cut Carbon Pollution from New Power Plants, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Press Statement, 9.20.13
Latinos Support First Critical Step in President’s Climate Action Plan, Voces Verdes Press Release, 9.20.13
SEEC Statement on Carbon Pollution Standards for Future Power Plants, Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) Press Statement, 9.19.13
Congressional Republicans Ignore Americans Affected by Climate Disruption, Sierra Club Blog, 9.18.13
National Park Air Quality at Risk, Joint Sign-on Fact Sheet, 9.16.13
Shaheen-Portman Keystone XL Amendment Sign-on Letter, Joint Sign-on Letter, 9.16.13
Above is a sampling of the most recent resources related to upholding the Clean Air Act. Don’t forget USCAN has a series of pages that compile items like these and much more:
Clean Air Act Digest is a publication put together by US Climate Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council. Please contact Lara Levison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Click here for past issues.