Politics

EPA backpedals on top official’s comments about expand greenhouse gas regulations

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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Acting Environmental Protection Agency administrator Bob Perciasepe reportedly commented that the agency would work with states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants in 2014, but the EPA is now backpedaling.

Perciasepe told reporters that the agency looks forward to “working with states on existing sources, but we’re not there yet. But that’s certainly something that will be on the table in this next fiscal year.”

However, after E&E Publishing reported on Perciasepe’s comments, the EPA issued a statement saying the agency had no plans to regulating greenhouse gases from existing sources.

“To clarify, EPA currently has no plans to regulate GHG emissions from existing power plants. As the Acting Administrator said today, a variety of potential options are on the table, but the Agency is currently focused on reviewing the more than 2 million comments received on its proposed standards for new power plants,” the agency said in an emailed statement to E&E. “To assert that any decision on any additional action has been made would be incorrect.”

The EPA sent the same statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation when asked about the agency’s plans to implement greenhouse gas regulations for existing power plants.

The agency officially delayed a rule that would limit emissions from new power plants, and the EPA is still reviewing more than 2 million comments for the rule. Critics say that rule would essentially ban the construction of coal-fired power plants.

The Washington Post reports that the rule will likely be altered by the EPA so it can withstand legal challenges. For example, the agency could create separate standards for coal-fired power plants and natural gas-fired power plants.

The White House and the EPA have generally avoided the topic of regulating existing power plant emissions, but environmental groups have been pushing the administration to adopt such rules.

Last year, the Natural Resource Defense Council proposed to regulating emissions from existing power plants by allowing states to take different routes to cutting emissions.

“The president put climate change on the national agenda, and NRDC’s plan shows how the United States can make big reductions in carbon pollution that drive climate change, with a flexible approach that promotes clean energy investments and delivers big benefits for Americans’ health,” said NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner.

The group suggested cleaning up existing power plants, shifting power generation to zero-to-low carbon-emitting plants, and improving plants’ electrical efficiency. The NRDC also proposed to have credits for utilities that implement energy efficiency programs and allow utilities to average their older plant emissions with emission-free new renewable energy projects.

Environmentalists have also urged President Obama to use his executive authority to address the issue of climate change by using EPA Clean Air Act authority to regulate emissions from the country’s aging power plants.

“Use your executive authority,” reads a letter sent from nearly 70 environmental groups. “You have the authority under existing law to achieve urgently needed reductions in the carbon pollution that is disrupting our climate and damaging our health.”

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