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Indiana and Kentucky Comment on Proposed Greenhouse Gas Emission Limitations for New Electric Utility Generating Units


By Jennifer Kahney Thompson, Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

On April 13, 2012, EPA published its Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions for New Stationary Sources:  Electric Utility Generating Units in the Federal Register.  77 Fed. Reg. 22392.  The proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new affected fossil fuel-fired electric utility generating units (EGUs).  The proposed regulations would require EGUs greater than 25 megawatt electric (MWe) to meet an output-based standard of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (lb CO2/MWh), based on the performance of widely-used natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) technology.  EPA claims “[n]ew coal-fired or pet coke-fired units could meet the standard by employing carbon capture and storage (CCS) of approximately 50 percent of the CO2 in the exhaust gas at startup, or through later application of more effective CCS to meet the standard on average over a 30-year period.”  

IDEM, Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear, and DAQ all submitted comments on the proposed NSPS.  Each commented that the proposed regulations effectively eliminate the construction of any new coal-fired EGU because of the unrealistic, unattainable emission limits for CO2 and close the door on development of clean coal technology as an energy option.  Both Indiana and Kentucky point out that the compliance requirements for new coal-fired power plants, CCS, is unproven in the power industry. 

Additionally, unlike with other regulations, the proposed regulation establishes an output-based CO2 emission limit for all EGUs, regardless of the technology design of the unit and the fuel type usage.  EPA has effectively chosen a single fuel for all new EGUs, and has failed to recognize that the United States should have a diverse energy portfolio which recognizes that different fuels may ultimately be the best choice for different areas of the county.  In fact the DAQ stated that the proposed regulation “’redefines’ and mandates the basic fundamental design of EGUs.  Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) is the process to generate electricity and is not the control system designed to reduce emissions.”  DAQ even suggested that EPA should amend the existing NSPS for EGUs rather than create an additional subpart under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act. 

IDEM also requested EPA to revise the proposed regulations because it failed to consider the lifecycle GHG emissions associated with the alternative technologies (the global warming impact of the drilling and delivery of natural gas to the EGU).  Both Indiana and Kentucky seek other clarifications regarding exemptions and modifications to the proposed regulations.  Overall, both states comments warn EPA of the devastating impacts the proposed rule could have on their states as well as the country.

To view a complete PDF of the Second Quarter 2012 issue of the Air Quality Letter, click HERE.


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