Obama moves on coal UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Obama moves on coal UPDATE



The Sierra Club says the Obama administration is moving to regulate CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants. This, the club says, could have big implications for new plants, including the one under construction in Hempstead County.

This reminds me that I meant to link an article in Sunday's NY Times that illustrates how far Arkansas officialdom is behind the times in their love of greenhouse gas-spewing power plants.

UPDATE: AES cancelled a coal plant in Oklahoma today, one of dozens scrapped in recent months because of pollution concerns. Only in Arkansas are poisons tolerated.

Glen Hooks of Little Rock, regional director of the Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign says:

What does it mean?

It is the first step toward regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants.

The coal industry will now have to live up to its clean coal rhetoric. Proposed coal plants can no longer ignore their carbon dioxide emissions.

The decision should halt virtually all new coal plant development until EPA decides how to address global warming pollution from coal plants—opening the door for the development of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar.

Any type of regulations on carbon dioxide emissions will make new coal plants much more expensive, especially when compared with cleaner energy alternatives like wind and efficiency.


President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today took the first step toward regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. EPA, under the new leadership of Administrator Lisa Jackson, granted a petition from the Sierra Club and other groups calling for reconsideration of an unlawful, midnight memo issued by former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson which sought to prohibit controls on global warming pollution from coal plants.  EPA announced in a letter to the Sierra Club that it will publish a proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register and seek public comments on the decision in the near future. 

Today's decision is consistent with a previous ruling by the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) in the Bonanza case, which found that there was no valid reason for the Bush administration's refusal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants. The so-called Johnson Memo sought to unlawfully overturn that decision.
Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund filed suit against the Bush administration to overturn the Johnson Memo.  That litigation will now be put on hold as a result of today's announcement.  

In response, David Bookbinder, Chief Climate Counsel for the Sierra Club issued the following statement.

"Today's victory is yet another indication that change really has come to Washington, and to EPA in particular.  This decision stops the Bush Administration's final, last-minute effort to saddle President Obama with its do-nothing policy on global warming.

"Not only does today's decision signal a good start for our clean energy future, it also signals a return to policy based on sound science and the rule of law, not deep pocketbooks or politics. Lisa Jackson is making good on her promises to bring science and the rule of law back into the center of the decision making process at EPA.

"With coal-fired power plants emitting more than 30 percent of our global warming pollution, regulating their carbon dioxide is essential to making real progress in the fight against global warming.

"Holding coal-fired power plants accountable for their global warming emissions was one of the top actions the Sierra Club has been encouraging President Obama to take on global warming as soon as possible as part of the "Clean Slate" agenda. Building on the monumental economic recovery package to be signed today and his administration's quick decision to reconsider the California clean cars waiver, this is one more part of President Obama's vision for building a clean energy economy that will create millions of new green jobs while curbing global warming.

"Today's announcement should cast significant further doubt on the approximately 100 coal-fired power plants that the industry is trying to rush through the permitting process without any limits on carbon dioxide.  New coal plants were already a bad bet for investors and ratepayers and today's decisions make them an even bigger gamble." 

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