In The News

Utility Companies Warn Biden His Emissions Plan Is Not ‘Legally Or Technically Sound’

The Edison Electric institute (EEI), a leading trade group for utility companies, filed extensive comments Tuesday in response to proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that would clamp down on fossil fuel-fired power plants.

EEI filed their comments in response to several proposed rules that would introduce tight regulations on greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuel-fired power plants under the auspices of the Clean Air Act. The comments assert that the “EPA’s assessments” that form the underlying basis for the various rule proposals “are not legally or technically sound.”

The EPA’s plans rely heavily on the widespread commercial use of green technologies that have not yet proven effective at scale, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen blending, a technique that is neither completely safe nor effective, according to a 2022 report by the Pipeline Safety Trust.

EEI stated in its 214 pages of comments that the “EPA has not shown that either CCS or hydrogen blending are adequately demonstrated and that the proposed standards are achievable across all regulated units,” adding that the EPA’s “determination that CCS and hydrogen blending are adequately demonstrated is legally insufficient.”

The EPA’s proposals would require large gas-fired power plants that are operational at least 50% of the time to install carbon capture technology by 2035, or alternatively to operate using 30% hydrogen by 2032, according to Reuters. The EPA adjusted its strategy to account for limitations to its authority under the Clean Air Act set forth by the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. EPA, decided in June 2022.

EEI also called for the EPA to provide more flexibility for utility companies and states to come into compliance with its standards in its comments.

EEI’s comments do not fully reject or challenge every aspect of the EPA’s proposed rules for fossil-fueled power plants, but the depth and breadth of the comments suggests that there is a significant rift between the Biden administration’s green energy goals and the reality that America’s leading utility firms expect to encounter as President Joe Biden’s green energy agenda takes hold.

“The proposed rule is consistent with EPA’s traditional approach to establishing pollution standards under the Clean Air Act, requiring reductions in carbon pollution based on proven and cost-effective control technologies that can be applied directly to power plants,” an EPA spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The proposed limits and guidelines also provide power plants with ample lead time and substantial compliance flexibilities, allowing power companies and grid operators to make sound long-term planning and investment decisions and supporting the power sector’s ability to continue delivering reliable and affordable electricity.”

The EPA’s proposed regulations are aligned with President Joe Biden’s wider push to have the American energy sector reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2035 and the American economy reach net-zero by 2050.

Mark Christie, a top official for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) warned in June that “catastrophic consequences” could await the American economy if the trend of premature retirement of fossil fuel-fired power plants continues before green energy alternatives are ready to supply large amounts of power to the grid.

The White House did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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Nick Pope

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