Power Failure

We’ve lifted this from Texas Public Policy Foundation. It illustrates the potential costs of our failure to enact strong EPA regulation nullification policies in the 82nd Legislature.

EPA Threatens Use of Lignite

By Kathleen Hartnett White, Distinguished Senior Fellow-in-Residence and Director, Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment

As soon as next year, Texans who use electricity may have less of it and at far higher prices compliments of an EPA rule fraught with false assumptions, specious logic, and technical errors. Called the Clean Air Transport Rule (CATR), this rule risks continued use of Texas lignite coal to fuel electric generation.

With compliance required this January 2012, CATR’s emission reductions are unachievable for most plants. Overnight fuel-switching is logistically and legally impossible. Retrofitting plants which now use lignite would involve 3-4 years of engineering, fabrication, boiler re-construction, new rail construction and complex new permits—at multi-billion dollar costs.

Lignite coal provides 11 percent of electric generation in Texas. Abrupt elimination of lignite in the Texas fuel mix risks 7,000-13,000 MW of generation in Texas, reducing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ (ERCOT) targeted reserve margin of 13.75 percent of surplus capacity to 5.2 percent at best—and take us into deficit at worst.

Directly and indirectly, lignite mining supports 10,000-14,000 jobs and is the lifeblood of local tax base and business in many Texas communities. Lignite contributes $1.3 billion to the state’s economy and $71 million in state revenues.

The purpose of this complex rule is to prohibit interstate transport of power plant emissions that hinder attainment of national ambient air quality standards in downwind states. EPA concludes that sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from Texas plants may impact attainment of fine particulate matter standards in St. Louis, Missouri. Yet, St. Louis now attains that standard as does Texas. EPA’s own modeling shows that Texas emissions do not trigger impacts in Missouri.

At proposal of this transport rule, EPA did not include Texas in group of states subject to the program for SO2. Although EPA’s proposed rule requested comments on Texas, the agency has not provided any information about specific Texas requirements as the proposal and three supplementary notices did for the other states. To pull Texas in at the last hour, EPA would flout the constitutional due process guaranteed in the Administrative Procedures Act for all rulemakings.

EPA has no environmental basis for subjecting Texas to CATR. EPA is using the Clean Air Act, intended to protect human health, to force an energy policy to suppress coal—whatever the economic consequences. Once again, Texas, the job creating engine of the country, stands in the crosshairs of EPA’s legally unjustified mandates. Texans should not accept submission to EPA—an increasingly arbitrary and capricious master.

Kathleen Hartnett White

Posted on July 7, 2011, in 10th Amendment, Current Legislative Updates, EPA Over-reach, Nullification, Over-regulation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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