The moronic administration of Obama is planning to skyrocket rates and bring our industrial capacity to third world standards.

Congressional deadlock means two game-changing Environmental Protection Agency rules are poised to take effect unless a court stops them or the White House weighs in.

The rules will cost electric utilities and their ratepayers billions. But the utility industry itself is split between those that have invested to lower their air pollution ahead of federal regulation and say stricter standards can be met, and those who remain highly coal-dependent and contend the EPA is forcing changes so fast it will endanger electric reliability.

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House Republicans have made repeated attempts this year to stop EPA, but none of those efforts are even getting to a vote in the Senate. Given the budget deadlock, there's little expectation that will change before compliance schedules kick in.

The two rules are the Mercury & Air Toxics Standards (known as the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology, or MACT, rule) and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, CSAPR. Both stem from the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments.

Predecessors of both rules were issued in the George W. Bush administration and thrown out by courts. That left both rewrites to the Obama administration.

As issued in July, CSAPR ratchets down the permitted sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions in 27 upwind states, to limit harm to air in downwind states. Some 45 plaintiffs--mainly upwind state governments and power companies--are alleging irreparable harm if the rule takes effect January 1, 2012 as scheduled. They say complying in 2012 may mean shutting facilities and risking power shortages. They want a federal court to delay the rule while its legality is litigated.
Downwind states and cities, plus some utilities and environmental groups, have joined EPA in defending the rule.

The MACT Act

The Utility MACT rule responds to a court decision that mercury emissions cannot be traded like pollutants covered by CSAPR. So the Utility MACT rule sets standards that every generating site must meet, in effect ending the "grandfathering" of old coal and oil plants enabled by pollutant trading systems.

The Utility MACT rule was due to be final November 16 but the court gave EPA a one-month extension to consider final comments. So it's now under Office of Management & Budget review, and is due out in mid-December. It would take effect in 2015, giving utilities three years to ready their facilities.

There's no debate that the MACT rules would mean shutdown of many smaller, older coal plants that can't be upgraded economically, and expensive upgrades to many other coal facilities. Shutdown predictions run somewhere between 30 and 70 gigawatts (of more than 300 coal-fired GW.) EPA estimates this rule will cost $10.9 billion annually in the next decade, for retrofits and replacements. Some utility estimates run much higher.

But the costs, like those for CSAPR, are unevenly distributed, affecting coal-dependent utilities and regions more heavily. Twenty-five states and some utilities are trying to get a federal court to delay the Utility MACT rule, so far unsuccessfully.

The North American Electric Reliability Council has raised concerns that coal plants in locations important to electric grid reliability could be forced shut. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is holding a technical conference November 29-30 to discuss the situation.

Inside Support For Regulation

But not everyone in the industry sees a problem. Ralph Izzo, Chairman, CEO and President of Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), wrote in an October 27 blog that the rules have been in process for 20 years.

"During the past five years, we have invested more than $2 billion" to replace older PSEG generating units and upgrade others.

Izzo said EPA's rules are "overdue" and will give the capital-intensive electricity industry the certainty it needs to make large new investments.

John Rowe, Chairman and CEO of Exelon, said in a November 9 statement that the continuing low price of natural gas provides an opportunity for utilities to meet new pollution rules at reasonable cost.

Setting clean air standards, and then letting utilities figure the most efficient way to meet them, is the least expensive way for government to get clean energy, Rowe contended. "Congress should not stop the EPA," he said, noting the new rules will create new jobs.

Easing The Impact

One difficulty in assessing the rules' impact is that the average coal plant dates to the 1960s, and utilities are starting to shut many anyway.

Jim Rogers, Chairman, President and CEO of Duke Energy, said October 31 that the wholesale replacements needed mean electricity prices must go up. He said rates, in real terms, have stayed flat for 50 years.

Industry experts are speculating whether the White House will step in, despite the criticism that environmentalists rained on President Obama two months ago after he delayed review of ozone standards to 2013.

Kevin Book of ClearView Energy Partners said, given the importance of MACT to environmental groups, the White House might offer some delay or modification to CSAPR as an "olive branch" to affected states important in the 2012 election.

Christine Tezak, senior energy and environment policy analyst at R.W. Baird & Co., said OMB might add "safety valve" provisions to MACT to ensure grid reliability and ease requirements for utilities to get an additional year for compliance.


obama hopes this doesn't go through til after the election


Perhaps I am misunderstanding the term "Enviro-Terrorists" as used by Jerome in an early post. I'm not sure whether he refers to those who would do anything, however violent, to protect the environment, or those who would do anything, however damaging to the environment, for profit. The usage in his post suggests that he thinks that pro-environment persons blew up the Deep Horizon.

Perhaps Jerome believes that extreme environmntalists would take the risk of destroying the evironment in order to save it. Very convoluted thinking, and very wrong. Forget the rabid environmentalists. Try extreme stupidity: The woman who was supposed to be watching the systems and sound the alarm when two or three signals went off, "became confused" when ten went off at once. She "didn't know what to do," so instead of sounding the alarm, possibly in time to save the 11 who died, did nothing.

On the other hand, Oil Companies and their associates do not care about the environment, but do care about their equipment.

Jerome, the Gulf disaster was caused by BP and its associates foregoing one safety procedure after another to save money and increase profits. Common practice, but this time it didn't work, Big Time. Why did they do it? Easy: They'd done it so many times before, they didn't think they'd get caught. I guess they didn't consider the consequences of hiring really, really stupid people to watch over that equipment.

Perhaps we should consider the fact that, despite the cost of the loss of the rig, BP was able to pony up 20 BILLION dollars to partially offset the losses by ordinary people working in in the area. The ecological damage to the Gulf and to the already fragile Louisiana coastline, is beyond calculation by ordiinary means, and will take decades to determine. We may rest assured that, however many billions of dollars BP forks over in compensation, it will not change their basic operating credo: Profits over everything else. They'll even spend millions in PR to show how they are helping the environment.

I won't go into the incestuous relationship between the oil companies and the local regulators; the term speaks for itself and is quite appropriate.

I don't think that profit, per se, is a bad thing. But there has to be a balance between profit and environmental protection. That's called regulation. Considering the really bad history of these international mega companies, strict regulation coupled with massive fines and penalties -- large enough to really hurt the company bottom line -- are necessary, regardless of what pro-business persons think.


I live by Niagara Falls.lol Hydro Electric Power.It sounds like you need a wind farm put up.It would cut your bill down to 1/3 of what you pay now.Wind power is for you.Get to gether and have it done.

steve thompson

Here in Indiana our coal fired electric plant has already issued a statement saying they would shut down the plant rather than spend the money to upgrade to meet the specifications in these laws. Leaving us face to face with whats going to be an ENORMOUS hike in prices as we import electricity. hEY GUVMINT MAN, YOU'VE MADE NO FRIENDS HERE!


First of all, why does a group of unelected bureaucrats make laws, that is congress's job? secondly thanks to all the liberal retards that support and vote for obama and his anti-american agenda.




In CT we already pay the highest cost of electricity now. If this passes it will cost far more than we pay for our mortgage! This is complete insanity in this economy and is unsustainable. If What do people do if its a choice been keeping warm or foreclosure! Washington is broken for sure!


There has been global warming and cooling long before there were people, so there is nothing we can do to "Save the Planet". Those people are hysterics or have political motives. It is economically unfeasible to retrofit some old plants. New plants should meet somewhat cleaner standards, but not ever-increasingly cleaner standards, particularly if they raise the cost of living, the cost of electricity for all. The environmentalists actually seem to hate people for existing. They think our CO2 is causing GW and would stop it entirely. OK, you exhale CO2, so when will they have a breathing tax and cause you to cease breathing if you can't pay the tax. Fire produces CO2, so ban or tax fire, and those who can't pay will freeze to death. Alternative power requires metal, but mining and the use of fire to get metal is evil to an extreme environmentalist. Alternative energy sources are all more expensive and less reliable than coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear. They think if energy prices rise, it will force everyone to use less energy and harm the planet less. They don't care about standard of living and general survival, because environmentalism is their religion. Normal people want a reasonably clean environment, that doesn't lower their standard of living or raise their cost of living. There has to be a balance between everything, which the environmentalists do not allow for.

1 reply to beesidemeusa's comment

George Carlin, rest his soul, had a comedy routine about "saving the Earth". His take: the Earth would be just fine, it was Humans that needed saving. LOL.


The real problem is that the EPA doesn't know when we are reaching diminishing returns. They cleaned up the air when the agency was in its infancy so they are heroes. But now we have a giant bureaucracy that has to justify its existence by finding ways to remove every last little bit of pollution from every industry. That has driven most manufacturing plants overseas, where people are glad to get the work despite much worse pollution than we have here. Unfortunately power can't really be imported except from Canada and Mexico. So if EPA has its way, we will pay more and more earn less and less to support their draconian measures, with a small if any benefit.


Might as well throw the VAT tax in there at the same time. But yes, let's subsidize Jon Bon Jovi and the big farmer consortiums, send our jobs overseas and buy oil from people who hate us while they charge the average man more and more. Just stick in and break it off all at one time and get it over with. This is like someone pulling a bandaid off of a scab slowly.


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