You may remember from a few weeks back when the supremes in a very rare unanimous decision ruled that the Duke Energy would have to install new pollution controls if it made modifications to its power plants that increased annual emissions without increasing hourly emissions. Well, never mind that, the EPA released a “rule” that “clarifies” this issue.
The government proposed a pollution standard for power plants Wednesday that critics said flouts the spirit of a Supreme Court ruling on clean air enforcement.
The proposal would make it easier for utilities to expand plant operations or make other changes to produce more electricity without installing new pollution controls.
The proposal would allow the use of average hourly smokestack emissions when determining whether a plant’s expansion or efficiency improvements require additional pollution controls. The EPA hopes to make the proposal final before year’s end.
Opponents of the hourly standard recently argued before the Supreme Court that this standard lets a plant put more smog-causing chemicals and other pollution into the air, even if hourly releases do not increase.
Environmentalists long have contended the EPA should continue using annual emissions to determine whether new pollution controls are needed under the Clean Air Act.
Let’s get this straight, “environmentalists contend”? There is nothing to contend here, it’s simple math. If you keep hourly rates the same and run your plant for longer, you will emit more pollution, which is not good. Less pollution good, more pollution bad, there is no point of contention here. Hourly standards and annual standards are used for two different things. The hourly standard sets a lower limit on the efficiency of the pollution control operation for the plant. The annual standard measures the plant’s overall impact. Both of them need to be regulated. It is only common sense that if you put out twice the amount of pollution in a year because you run 20 hours per day instead of 10, you need to control it. The Supremes rightly tagged this argument as dishonest, only to see the EPA very happily turn around and reissue it as an official rule.