On March 12, 2014, the House Subcommittees on Energy and the Environment held joint hearings on the science of “Capture and Storage” and “Understanding the EPA’s Carbon Rules.”
In February 2010, President Obama created an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), co-chaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), and charged the task force with “proposing a plan to overcome the barriers to the widespread, cost-effective deployment of carbon capture and storage within 10 years, with a goal of bringing five to 10 commercial demonstration projects online by 2016.” In August 2010, the task force issued a report, concluding that (a) CCS technology was viable and (b) CCS can play an important role in domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions while preserving the option of using coal and other abundant domestic fossil-energy resources.
In September 2013, the EPA announced a new rule proposal, under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, called “New Source Performance Standard for New Power Plants.” According to the EPA press release, “[t]his action proposes a separate standard of performance for fossil fuel-fired electric utility steam generating units and integrated gasification combined cycle units that burn coal, petroleum coke and other fossil fuels that is based on partial implementation of carbon capture and storage as the best system of emission reduction. This action also proposes standards for natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines based on modern, efficient natural gas combined cycle technology as the best system of emission reduction. This action also includes related proposals concerning permitting fees under Clean Air Act Title V, the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, and the definition of the pollutant covered under the prevention of significant deterioration program.”
There is significant interest in the EPA’s rule proposal and the power industry is intimately involved. The EPA has received significant comments and recently announced that, to “ensure that the public has sufficient time to review and comment on all of the information available,” the comment public comment period has been extended to May 9, 2014. Comments can be submitted to the EPA at this link:
Additionally, last week, the House subcommittees on Energy and the Environment held joint hearings at which industry leaders testified that CCS technology does not yet exist to meet the regulatory requirements. Lawmakers also launched an investigation into the EPA’s decision-making process leading up to establishing the emissions standards for new power plants. Specifically, leaders of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee have written to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting documents they will use to determine whether the agency complied with the law when it developed its proposals for new power plants, announced in September 2013.