Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The ruling, known as "the Johnson memo" because it stems from a memo issued by former EPA administrator Steven Johnson at the very end of the Bush administration, will ensure that major greenhouse emitters such as coal-fired utilities don't face immediate regulation. The prospect of regulation for stationary sources of carbon dioxide would have kicked in once the administration issues greenhouse gas regulations for cars and light-trucks, which will happen by midnight Wednesday.

State and local officials had complained to the EPA that they were not prepared to grapple with greenhouse gas permits this soon, and asked for a nine-month delay so they could reconcile their programs with the federal one.

"This is a common sense plan for phasing in the protections of the Clean Air Act. It gives large facilities the time they need to innovate, governments the time to prepare to cut greenhouse gases and it ensures that we don't push this problem off to our children and grandchildren," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "With a clear process in place, it's now time for American innovators and entrepreneurs to go to work and lead us into the clean energy economy of the future."

S. William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said the EPA's move "will be extraordinarily helpful to every state in this country." He added that the delay will help assure "a smooth and rational transition to the daunting but important challenges of regulating greenhouse gases from industrial facilities. We are extremely heartened that EPA has not only heard our concerns, but has followed our advice."

The announcement is not likely to placate several lawmakers and representatives of the fossil-fuel industry and manufacturing sector, however, who have complained the Clean Air Act is not an appropriate tool for regulating emissions linked to global warming.

But Frank O'Donnell, who heads the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, said it might help the administration if it's sued in court over the regulations. "It gives them a legal argument to explain why they're not taking action immediately," he said.

I find it interesting how people make authoritative sounding comments on things they know nothing about. You seem to think that all Natural Draft wet cooling towers mean it's a nuclear power plant. As someone who works in fossil fuel power generation, you should know that those towers are more often used for large scale coal plants, such as those over 700 MW. There is likely another flue gas stack (similar to the one on the left actually pictured!) that has been cropped out of view. The amount of greenhouse gases emitted from a plant like that in the photo is astounding. But the more devastating fact is that with a lapse in hardline regulations, these same utilities are also letting any money-consuming pollution control equipment take a break if it doesn't mean violating slim state limits. So until prospective new EPA plans, most turn down their ESP's, SCR's, and various injection systems along with putting existing plans for system efficiency upgrades on hold. Beyond debatable greenhouse gas effects and limits, much harder standards on emissions of NOx, SOx, Unburnt Carbon and Mercury have been needed for decades. And no, Nuclear Power Plants are not free of air pollution, or their auxiliary systems, but thats a different discussion.


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