EDF Supports Comment Extension on Power Plant Standards

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) extended the time period for the development of greenhouse gas (GHG) New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for fossil fuel-fired power plants.  Proposed GHG NSPS will now be issued by September 30, 2011.

What are New Source Performance Standards (NSPS)?

NSPS are federal emission standards that are developed for major stationary sources of harmful air pollution.  These standards are based on emission reductions achieved by the most efficient emission reduction technology on the market, taking costs and impacts on energy and the environment into account.  The Clean Air Act directs EPA to review the standards at least every 8 years to see if new emission reduction systems can achieve greater emission reductions and health protection. Once EPA sets the level of emission reductions that can be achieved from existing stationary pollution sources, States develop plans to achieve the reductions.  EPA is currently designing the NSPS for GHG emissions from power plants, the largest source of GHG emissions in the country, and for refineries.  EDF submitted comments to EPA focused on how the standards could be designed to be legally robust and environmentally effective.

Why extend the NSPS development period?

The timeline for EPA’s development of these vitally important emission standards is set by a settlement agreement with Environmental Defense Fund and other parties.  EPA has been gathering input from stakeholders on how the standards should be designed, holding five “listening sessions” around the country and receiving over 5,000 written comments to date.  In light of this extensive public comment, all active parties in the settlement agreement have agreed to extend the standard’s development period through September 30th. This allows EPA to better incorporate the public input into the design of the new standards.

The task before EPA is extraordinarily important. They must address damaging, climate-disrupting pollution from the single largest source of air pollution in our nation, and in doing so apply common sense and made-in-America solutions. Although these standards are long overdue, we support the agency’s careful rulemaking. For those of us in Texas, we especially look forward to the establishment of these vital environmental safeguards. As the chart shows, power plants in Texas emit more greenhouse gases than in any other State in the nation.

While supporting an extension of the proposal development period, EDF does not support any delay that would affect the deadline for final action on the rule, which is May 26, 2012. Maintaining that deadline is of great importance to EDF.

We are confident that robust, cost-effective, and environmentally rigorous standards can be developed. These standards will improve the efficiency of our energy system while reducing harmful emissions. And as mentioned previously, because Texas power plant emissions are the highest in the nation, new standards will reduce climate-disrupting emissions and protect current and future generations of Texans from harmful air pollution.

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