‘Extreme And Unlawful Overreach’: Biden Admin Unveils Final Plan To Push Climate Agenda On America’s Power Grid

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The Biden administration issued its final regulations for power plants Thursday, setting steep emissions reductions mandates that some energy organizations and experts warn could cause severe problems for the country in the longer term.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules for coal and natural gas power plants are among the most aggressive regulations that the agency has promulgated under President Joe Biden. While the Biden administration claims that the rules are major actions to fight climate change that will not affect the grid’s reliability, energy sector experts are warning that the rules could cause serious reliability issues that would harm the American economy.

The rules issued include a requirement for the country’s coal plants and new natural gas plants to install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to capture 90% of their carbon emissions in order to continue operations past 2039, according to the agency. Other rules include a measure to tighten mercury emissions standards for existing coal-fired plants by 70% and reduce pollutants in the wastewater that coal-fired plants produce. (RELATED: EPA’s New Climate Rule Would Cause Rolling Blackouts In Huge Swath Of America, Analysis Finds)

The agency stated that the rule will not “[disrupt] the delivery of reliable electricity” in the long-term, but its critics strongly disagree on that point.

“At a time of rapid energy demand growth, we need policies that harness all of America’s resources, including natural gas and renewables, to power our future economy and help ensure energy is affordable for families and businesses. We remain concerned that EPA’s final rule fails to properly consider grid reliability and the need for new natural gas plants to maintain that reliability,” Dustin Meyer, the American Petroleum Institute’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, said in a statement. “The administration should instead focus on removing barriers to building new generation capacity and fixing our broken permitting process to allow for the development of critical infrastructure – including carbon capture and hydrogen technologies – to keep the lights on for the American people.”

The House Oversight and Accountability Committee released internal Biden administration documents in February, revealing that some officials within the administration were concerned that EPA’s power plant rules had serious practical and legal shortcomings, with one official pointing out that the CCS technology the agency is relying on is not yet technologically advanced enough or free of a permitting backlog.

The Edison Electric Institute, a major trade association representing investor-owned energy firms, expressed similar concerns about CCS. The trade group said Thursday that “CCS is not yet ready for full-scale, economy-wide deployment, nor is there sufficient time to permit, finance, and build the CCS infrastructure needed for compliance by 2032,” the year that EPA has set as a deadline for coal plant operators to adopt CCS.

The EPA told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the technology is up to the task, contrary to the concerns of the EPA’s critics.

“Lower costs and continued improvements in CCS technology, alongside tax incentives from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, represent recent developments that informed EPA’s determination of what is technically feasible and cost-reasonable,” an agency spokesperson told the DCNF. “EPA’s 90% capture determination for CCS is based on significant evidence of progress from existing large scale utility projects and projects in other industries … Taken together, these actions also provide the electricity sector with the information and regulatory certainty needed for an integrated, coordinated, and economically efficient approach to meeting their environmental obligations.”

Other critics of the agency’s rules, including America’s Power CEO and President Michelle Bloodworth, have compared the rules finalized Thursday to the Obama administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which was also driven by the EPA. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in 2022 that the Obama EPA’s regulations were illegal in West Virginia v. EPA.

“EPA’s new Clean Power Plan 2.0, one of the rules EPA issued today, is an extreme and unlawful overreach that endangers America’s supply of dependable and affordable electricity. The new Clean Power Plan is the same kind of overreach that caused the U.S. Supreme Court to reject EPA’s first Clean Power Plan in 2022,” Bloodworth said in a statement. “Impartial experts and officials have warned that policies and regulations, especially the new Clean Power Plan, that are designed to force the premature closure of coal plants could trigger an electric reliability crisis. Regrettably, EPA has chosen to ignore these warnings. In addition, EPA has finalized other rules today that increase the prospects of a reliability crisis.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comment from the EPA on the finalized rules.

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