Coal lobbyists bend White House ear on carbon rule

The agency in early 2012 floated draft emissions standards for new plants that would effectively bar construction of coal-fired units without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which remains far from widespread commercial use.

The EPA is currently working on a revised version of the proposal.

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“Standards for coal should not be based on CCS because CCS is not commercially available,” the ACCCE presentation states.

It notes the group is opposed to regulating carbon emissions at all under the Clean Air Act, but adds, “We recognize the President has directed EPA to develop CO2 standards for power plants.”

“In response, we have developed recommendations for achievable standards,” the group says in the presentation to the meeting, which also included EPA representatives.

The EPA’s 2012 draft rule would have imposed a carbon emissions limit on new power plants of 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour of electricity.

The ACCCE presentation contends that “achievable” emissions rates, depending on the type of coal and technology, are roughly twice that high.

The ACCCE is an industry group whose members include mining giants such as Peabody Energy and utilities that burn coal such as American Electric Power and Southern Co.

Their meeting with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the White House budget office is among several recent sit-downs between power industry representatives and federal aides to discuss the planned EPA rules.

Representatives of General Electric, which manufactures turbines for natural gas-fired plants, met recently with aides including new OIRA chief Howard Shelanski.

President Obama in late June ordered the EPA to unveil its revised proposal for new plant rules by Sept. 20.

The EPA is also crafting a much more far-reaching regulation, slated for proposal by June of 2014, that will impose emissions standards on the nation’s existing power plants.