Oct 20, 2009
Science Scene - What Emissions Rules are on the Horizon?
I found the graphic at the left interesting as it provides a breakdown of our carbon footprint. There are rules and regulations, and/or legislation in our future, our costs will increase, but how much remains to be seen. Based on the information below, we need to push for legislation, but it could be a moot point if it becomes mandated under the EPA laws.
The EPA and Department of Transportation last month released a notice of proposed rule making that provides proposed emissions standards for cars and light trucks. The proposed standards are a response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, which requires the EPA to determine if GHG emissions “endanger public health or welfare” and, if so, to regulate them.
If the EPA’s proposed endangerment finding and vehicle emissions standards are finalized, that could trigger regulation of GHG emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act.
Utilities consistently state that they favor congressional legislation over EPA regulation [that is a shock, when did you ever hear utility companies say they desire legislation to regulate their industry?]. Congressional legislation is likely to be more balanced and flexible in its approach, which would mean lower costs for customers of coal-based utilities.
The potential for EPA carbon dioxide (CO2) regulation is somewhat disturbing news, and it begs the question, who will bear that cost – shareholders or customers. EPA regulation could be more expensive because it would likely involve plant-specific emission limits and may not include an allocation of emission credits similar to that proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill.
At this point, it is difficult to predict how costly compliance may be.
The debate and options will be evaluated over the next several months, especially as we near the time frame for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.