EPA says Power Plant Permits can’t take Carbon Emissions into Account

A disappointing–but not entirely unsurprising–ruling from the EPA that permits for new coal-fueled power plants cannot take carbon emissions into account. Activists in Michigan had used an earlier ruling to pressure the state to reject seven proposed plants.


Over the past year, there has been a lot of opposition to coal-fueled power plants in Michigan from a coalition of environmental groups known as Michigan Clean Energy Now. However, a new ruling from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is likely to disappoint those working to stop the seven coal power plants planned for Michigan.

Last month, the Michigan Clean Energy Now coalition called on the state to stop issuing permits for coal power plants in light of an EPA ruling rejecting a permit in Utah because the plant’s application did not take into account carbon emissions. However, the EPA issued a new ruling Thursday saying that this can’t be done:

“Officials weighing federal applications by utilities to build new coal-fired power plants cannot consider their greenhouse gas output, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency ruled late Thursday. Some environmentalists fear the decision will clear the way for the approval of several such plants in the last days of the Bush administration.

The ruling, by Stephen L. Johnson, the administrator, responds to a decision made last month by the Environmental Appeals Board, a panel within the E.P.A., that had blocked the construction of a small new plant on the site of an existing power plant, Bonanza, on Ute tribal land in eastern Utah.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that the agency could regulate carbon dioxide, the most prevalent global warming gas, under existing law. The agency already requires some power plants to track how much carbon dioxide they emit.

But a memorandum issued by Mr. Johnson late Thursday puts the agency on record saying that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant to be regulated when approving power plants. He cited “sound policy considerations.””

Stephen Johnson is a Bush appointee who has previously been accused of delaying federal action to restrict CO2 emissions.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org