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.


  1. Ken, I like the grahpic!

    This is the perfect way to let peole know how they effect this issue. Each individual will have to make some changes and prepare for price increases in many different areas of their lives and with that knowledge I hope they can prepare for that end.

    I am so torn on how this should be mandated. I would like this issue to be vetted and reviewed via legislative process, but I'm afraid to many senators and congressman are beholden to interests that won't let them regulate as they should, given the severity of the issue at hand.

    With that fear in mind, the EPA seems like the right choice. However, the EPA is known for being terribly rigid, which in this circumstance, won't help the situation either. As you said, we need to be flexible if we are going to be able to change consumption, energy sources, and our output all at the same time.

    I am sure of one thing, this is going to be a painful change for most and it is going to be costly. We have been putting this off for my entire lifetime and it is time to pay the piper.

  2. Your graphic is great! How to reduce the cost of all of it.................?????? I do believe we all can cut back somewhere, somehow.

  3. Yes, it certainly seems like we can all do something to lighten this problem. Something small for one person can be big when many people do it. But this is going to be a huge issue in the coming years, and I agree with Kyle--it's not going to be cheap.


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