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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1905

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mac

So I took your advice and read a summary of the Supreme Court decision. I could not find the actual documents.

The decision is in regards to auto emissions, not power production. yes? My point is we will see the power companies sue, if they believe that they have a loophole.

Secondly, the decision reaffirms the CAA rules that the EPA must work with each state to develop emission control.

This strikes me as business as usual. The regs will be a long time coming and will be challenged for years. Insulting his adversaries will not help the President's cause.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4952

PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CB, from a summary of the case here:
http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/rpt/2011-R-0480.htm

Quote:
In Massachusetts, the Court held that carbon dioxide emissions qualify as “air pollution” and are subject to regulation under the CAA. Here, the Supreme Court held that the CAA and the EPA actions it allows displace any federal common law right for the prohibition of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants. The Court stated that the test for determining whether Congress has displaced federal common law is whether Congress enacted a law that “speaks directly to the question.” The Court found that the CAA directly addresses these emissions and provides a procedure for limiting power plant emissions.

As summarized by the Court, the CAA directs the EPA administrator to, among other things, list categories of stationary sources that contribute significantly to air pollution which may be dangerous to public health or welfare. Once listed, EPA must establish emission performance standards for pollutants from new or modified sources and regulate existing sources. EPA issues emissions guidelines for existing sources that states follow when setting performance standards. The CAA also provides several enforcement methods such as inspection and monitoring, administrative penalties, and civil and criminal court action. EPA can delegate some authority to the states and the CAA allows for private enforcement under certain circumstances. If EPA does not set emissions limits for a pollutant or its source, its decision not to act is reviewable in federal court.


From the decision itself:

Quote:
Here, Massachusetts made plain that emissions of carbon dioxide qualify as air pollution subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. 549 U. S., at 528–529. And it is equally plain that the Act “speaks directly” to emissions of carbon dioxide from the defendants’ plants. The Act directs EPA to establish emissions standards for categories of stationary sources that, “in [the Administrator’s] judgment,” “caus[e], or contribut[e] significantly to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” §7411(b)(1)(A). Once EPA lists a category, it must establish performance standards for emission of pollutants from new or modified sources within that category, §7411(b)(1)(B), and, most relevant here, must regulate existing sources within the same category, §7411(d). The Act also provides multiple avenues for enforcement. If EPA does not set emissions limits for a particular pollutant or source of pollution, States and private parties may petition for a rulemaking on the matter, and EPA’s response will be reviewable in federal court. See §7607(b)(1).The Act itself thus provides a means to seek limits on emissions ofcarbon dioxide from domestic power plants—the same relief the plaintiffs seek by invoking federal common law. There is no room for a parallel track. Pp. 9–11. (emphasis added) http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-174.pdf
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4952

PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why is Obama talking trash, part II?

While Obama has made many mistakes as president, I seldom doubt that he is the smartest man in the room. When I saw this link:
http://www.barackobama.com/climate-deniers/ calling out the Republicans who are denying climate change, with some pithy and laughable quotes from each, it was pretty clear what he is trying to do. He understands that the House is capable of stopping pretty much anything he tries, and is unwilling to compromise. So he has two options. First, do what he can with the authority he has--thus the emission controls he has proposed. Second, he can help change the Congress, and particularly the House. This (his speech and the web site posting) is a very clear announcement that he intends to play hard ball, and will go after the opponents of his programs in the 2014 election cycle.

I believe that Obama has fairly broad support for his rather moderate proposals on gun control, immigration reform, and climate change, and a sense of strategic direction as to how to accomplish those goals. I have little doubt that most of the far right members of Congress, being relatively new and inexperienced in actually making policy and getting re-elected, have no coherent strategy for the long term. While many of these reactionaries have safely gerrymandered seats, I think that enough seats will be in play to change the Congress. This is the first shot across the bow--in essence a throw down to these Republicans to evolve or die (or go to work for Fox). I wouldn't underestimate his ability to use control over the political agenda to change Congress in the 2014 election. Give the Tea Party enough rope, and watch them put it around their neck and kick out the stool themselves.

I would also expect him to turn down the pipeline if the oil industry doesn't come to the table. He will need turn out to change Congress, and while he has the organization, I think he will need supporters of the environment, immigration, and gun control. I think the Republicans will be punished for their poor grasp of strategy.
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keycocker



Joined: 10 Jul 2005
Posts: 3201

PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got the same impression as Co on these issues, but Mac s point of view is compelling. It seems to me that frozen solid Congress has to be challenged if America is to move forward.
Leadership also involves doing something else when present tactics don't work.
Maybe it makes sense to not worry about annoying those who oppose you no matter what you do.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to NW's post, and why I get a little exasperated by his simply repeating Republican talking points without having the diligence to actually examine the evidence. He repeated the essential Republican talking points about a "war on coal", without much appreciation for either market forces or what is available to coal. He would, of course, be more persuasive if he used credible sources and demonstrated some understanding of an issue beyond talking points. A somewhat more reasoned analysis of coal can be found here: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/226337-house-republicans-disturbed-by-obamas-campaign-website

But it is more fruitful to compare the price per BTU of coal vs. natural gas--which I've done here before. Fracking brought dramatic decreases in the price of natural gas. While there is a debate as to whether prices will stay low, utilities switched to natural gas. An honest man with some understanding of history would blame that on Dick Cheney rather than Obama. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/22/what-happens-when-natural-gas-is-no-longer-dirt-cheap/

Of course a lot of this hearkens back to Cheney and an insider game for energy policy. The evidence that I've seen shows that done correctly, fracking (for both oil and natural gas) is environmentally acceptable. The problem with Cheney's approach, which exempted a number of energy producers who had contributed big to the Bush campaign from regulation, is that it was an insider deal that created vast suspicions. Of course the oil folks loved it, and keep beating on Obama and hoping for another Cheney.

An energy policy that eliminated subsidies for all production (we subsidize overseas coal for pete's sake) and instituted a small price for contaminants not otherwise stopped by regulation, would be a good starting place. Some understanding of complex issues by the righties here would be an even better place to start.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mac.

I did not find this 2011 Supreme Court Decision regarding a power plant case. I was looking for the 2007 case, which you had earlier referenced, that appeared to be directed at auto emissions.

Is your take that the power companies will have no way to stall the closure of existing, non complying, coal fired plants through the legal process because of these decisions?
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CB--there are two Supreme Court decisions. The first, and earlier one, determined that CO2 is a pollutant subject to regulation. The second made it clear that this applies to power plants, and that EPA's failure to act was reviewable. Both rebuked the Bush/Cheney approach and arguments.

There are differences in approaches in the Clean Air Act that I don't remember exactly. In some cases, the Act requires state's to act, and EPA only gets authority if the state's refuse to act. In other matters, EPA is the lead. But neither is really relevant here. EPA has the authority to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants, and Obama certainly took this step with vetting from their top attorney's. It's how they roll.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1905

PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That leaves the big question out there. How stringent will those regulations be, and will they apply to existing power plants? And, how much leeway is in those regulations that can be tweaked by another administration?

I am gathering from your comments that you feel this is a lock. But, again, I have my doubts. IMO, the details and standards that define these regulations are what will determine their success. If they are too stringent, I believe they will stall out, regardless of the Supreme Court decisions.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CB--from the Hill posting:

Quote:
The agency said new natural-gas plants will be able to meet the standard without adding any additional technology. But new coal plants would need to add new technology like carbon capture and storage (CCS), in which carbon dioxide emissions are collected and sequestered in the ground rather than released into the atmosphere.

But EPA has worked to ensure the rules aren't overly burdensome to the coal industry. Instead of meeting the standard on an annual basis, new coal plants that install CCS technology can use a 30-year average of their carbon dioxide emissions.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/226337-house-republicans-disturbed-by-obamas-campaign-website#ixzz2XkBqzbc4
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook


One of the benefits of coal-fired electrical generation is that they can capture and sequester CO2. Can be used to offset their inherently higher carbon signature. The requirement for sequestration does mean that coal won't come roaring back if natural gas prices double. But it is important in the long run, and coal will eventually be used.

Coal should have been subject to more rigorous emission controls to protect human health more than a decade ago. This brings me to your second question, can it be done? Every official that I've seen with the Obama administration is more ethical and more competent than their counterpart under the Bush administration--I still deal with clean air and clean water folks, as well as MARAD and NOAA officials. So yes, I think that Obama can successfully implement CO2 reduction standards--he has a Supreme Court decision (two of them) behind him, and I believe that EPA has been geared up to do this for over five years.

The biggest hurdles to rule-making are procedural. You need to publish the regulations, and their rationale, you need to respond substantively to comments, etc. It is tedious, and must be done well for the regulations to withstand court challenge. But the court decisions have all made it clear that where the standard is protection of health, there is limited room to adopt a less than fully protective standard--or change the standard in a revised rule-making. The Bushies kind of couldn't get out of their own way in rule-making--they weren't able to gut any significant regulation, they lost a huge number of lawsuits, and were just inept at complying with the court orders--or ignored the rulings. One I have first hand knowledge of is the ghost fleet case:

Quote:
Federal Judge Finds San Francisco Bay's Ghost Fleet Pollution Illegal

Court rules that federal government is illegally polluting the Bay from decaying ships


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 21, 2010) -- The Maritime Administration (MARAD), a federal agency responsible for San Francisco Bay’s ghost fleet, is illegally polluting and storing hazardous waste in the Bay, according to a federal court’s ruling today.

Judge Garland Burrell’s ruling handed a major victory to environmental groups Natural Resources Defense Council, Arc Ecology and San Francisco Baykeeper, the original plaintiffs in the case, and to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, which joined the suit after it had been filed. The environmental groups sued MARAD, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2007 to force it to stop discharging toxic heavy metals into San Francisco‘s Suisun Bay and to clean up more than 50 large ships abandoned and decaying in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet site, near Benicia.

An estimated 20 tons of heavy metals -- including lead, zinc, copper and cadmium -- have already fallen, blown or washed off the ships into the water, according to a MARAD-commissioned analysis. Projections indicated that the vessels would lose as much as an additional 50 tons of heavy metals in future years, as they succumbed to time and weather, unless cleaned up.

Internal communications and testimony obtained by the environmental groups through the lawsuit show that MARAD has known about the problem for more than a decade. Yet the agency never stopped the illegal pollution and repeatedly ignored several acts of Congress requiring disposal of the ships

Suisun Bay, located in northern San Francisco Bay near the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is critical habitat for several species of endangered fish -- including Chinook salmon and delta smelt. The State of California has warned residents to limit consumption of fish caught in Suisun Bay, due to pollution


The Obama administration worked quickly with the State agencies and the local Congressman--George Miller--to settle the lawsuits and begin removing and scrapping the ships. Of course, having lost, they paid for the attorneys of the environmental groups as well.

So that means that if successfully promulgated, regulations on CO2 could not easily be rolled back by a successor president. The successor could, to be sure, limit resources devoted to enforcement--but most of the environmental laws have a citizen attorney general provision that allows citizens to sue for enforcement purposes. My experience in San Francisco Bay is that this threat is sufficient, and the refineries and power plants around the Bay actually do a very good job on compliance--with the exception of Chevron, which is good on the water side and not so good on the safety and air side.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mac, where I see the rub is with existing coal fired power plants. My sources in the industry have known for awhile that new coal fired power plants will not be business as usual...part of the reason that natural gas has become so popular.

But, existing coal fired power plants are an integral part of the electrical grid. I worked for awhile designing power lines from these plants. Many coal plants are located close to coal sources, but, not necessarily to natural gas sources. Infrastructure to integrate new plants into the electrical grid is a process, to say the least...no one wants a new power line in their backyard.

The other problem I have with an abandonment of coal is that, without legislation, the coal can simply be shipped elsewhere to be burned. And, increasing electrical costs in the US to reduce carbon and mercury emissions will put industries, such as steel, cement and aluminum, at a disadvantage.

While I am for these environmental controls, I believe we need to be sure to protect our industries from the ramifications that may result. Do you see the CAA legislation broad enough to apply a "leveling field" to US industries in the form of tariffs on products produced abroad with dirty energy?
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