Replacing the “Clean Power Plan” with the “Affordable Clean Energy” Rule Makes No Sense or Cent$

by Duane Nichols on June 26, 2019

The CPP or an ACE in the hole

ACE rule can only dig us into a deeper hole

Editorial of the Morgantown Dominion Post, Sunday, June 23, 2019

Call it a policy of diminishing returns or retreats from a worsening climate crisis. We’re never going to sway the Trump administration on its decision to short circuit the Clean Power Plan. But technological trends and markets might, not to mention the power sector continuing to decarbonize faster than expected.

Yet, last week the Trump administration finalized its so-called Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule.

Our first question to those who put politics and self-interest above competitive markets is: How can we ever expect to win a war against the primary laws of economics? You know, if there’s a demand, someone will provide the supply, as long as the incentives are high enough.

And why even if Longview Power’s president and CEO, that operates the cleanest and most efficient coal-fired plant in the world, according to him, says it’s probably the last of its kind why think otherwise Especially when he tells you next thing that’s why Longview is developing an advanced gas-fired combine cycle plant beside its coal plant.

Finally, why would you ignore gains, that by some estimates show our country is already anywhere from a third to two-thirds of the way to meeting the Clean Power Plan’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030?

After all, aren’t happy days here again for the economy, despite the nation’s utilities already having drastically lowered emissions.

Most have no delusions about coal ever reaching the production numbers of the past and the outlook for this industry here and nationwide is uncertain, at best; grim, at worst.

Though some maintain you dance with the one that brought you, natural gas ditched coal more than a decade ago. More exactly, the advent of fracking around 2008 was to natural gas production what Elvis was to rock ’n’ roll.

But that was hardly the only front where the “war on coal” was waged. Increased use of renewables; heightened energy efficiencies; volatile international markets; and the depletion of thick, easy-to-mine seams all followed.

The decline in the coal industry is relentless, and though this decline may be slow and drawn out it’s just a matter of how low must it go. We reject any efforts, and hope courts do too, to roll back carbon restrictions, especially with the concerns about the amount of methane in the atmosphere.

Our country and our planet has a lot to lose, including our health, if we fail to address climate change. Rewrite the rules however you want, but any notion of coal’s resurgence is contrary to the way markets work and technology advances.

The ACE is certainly no ace in the hole for the coal industry. Indeed, it can only dig it and us into an even deeper one — at our own peril.

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The Hill June 26, 2019 at 10:04 pm

Top EPA official stepping down amid ethics probe | The Hill

From an Article by Miranda Green, The Hill News Report, June 26, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) air policy chief is leaving amid ethics concerns. The agency on Wednesday announced that Bill Wehrum, the head of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, will leave the agency by the end of June.

The announcement comes a few months after lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into whether Wehrum and his deputy improperly aided former energy industry clients after joining the EPA.

Wehrum, along with the office’s senior counsel, David Harlow, formerly worked at the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, where he represented Utility Air Regulatory Group. The umbrella group represents a number of power plant operators that EPA regulates.

The lawmakers wrote an April later to Wehrum’s former employer saying they were “deeply troubled by several reports of unethical behavior by EPA officials, particularly in the Office of Air and Radiation.”

“We are concerned that two former employees of your firm — William Wehrum and David Harlow — may have violated federal ethics rules by helping reverse EPA’s position in ongoing litigation,” Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) wrote in a letter to Hunton that was also signed by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

The agency under President Trump has rolled back a number of regulations that had long been targets of the coal industry and coal-reliant utilities.

Wehrum specifically was an integral player in relaxing a number of Obama-era pollution rules, including most recently Tuesday’s finalized repeal of the “once in, always in” regulation for sources of air pollution at “major” industrial power plants.

Wehrum has led the EPA’s efforts to repeal and replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, rolling out a final rule earlier this month to ease restrictions on coal fired power plants, called the American Clean Energy (ACE) rule. That rule is likely to face a court battle.

The head of EPA’s air pollution department has also played a role in shaping the new federal vehicle emissions standards, which critics argue will allow more pollution from tailpipe emissions.

In a statement Wednesday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheelersuggested that Wehrum had been anticipating leaving the EPA after the finalization of the rules.

“I would like to thank Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum for his service, his dedication to his job, the leadership he provided to his staff and the agency, and for his friendship,” Wheeler wrote. “While I have known of Bill’s desire to leave at the end of this month for quite sometime, the date has still come too soon. I applaud Bill and his team for finalizing the Affordable Clean Energy regulation last week and for the tremendous progress he has made in so many other regulatory initiatives.”

Wheeler said Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Anne Idsal will takeover Wehrum’s role.

Environmental groups cheered Wehrum’s departure Wednesday, saying he did more harm than good at the EPA. “Wehrum did more damage to the Clean Air Act than any other person in the last 40 years,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “His legacy will be more premature deaths, more hospital visits and more asthma attacks to our most vulnerable citizens.”

Wehrum is one of a number of EPA employees who have faced criticism over ties to previous clients. Wheeler has also come under fire for appearing to favor regulatory decisions that would benefit his former energy lobbyist clients.

Noah Bookbinder, executive director for watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called Wehrum’s departure just the tip of the iceberg for employees who need to leave due to ethical concerns.

“William Wehrum was emblematic of the administration’s struggles to remain ethical,” Bookbinder said in a statement. “While it’s a good thing that Wehrum’s potential ethics problems will no longer affect the agency, the tone is set at the top, and if the EPA is to clean up the mess started by Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration needs to get serious about policing its ethical failures.”


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