NRDC, environmental groups believe deeper CO2 cuts possible

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said Dec. 1 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can ramp up energy efficiency and renewable power, and achieve substantially deeper cuts in carbon pollution from power plants than it has proposed.

Dec. 1 marked the end of the public comment period for the EPA Clean Power Plan. EPA issued the rule proposal in June, which calls upon states to implement plans to reduce power sector CO2 30% by 2030.

NRDC held a conference call with reporters in connection with filing its formal comments. “Our analysis shows we can cut carbon pollution even more,” David Doniger, NRDC’s director of the climate and clean air program, said during the call.

Doniger and other NRDC officials used the call as an opportunity to try and refute some of the reliability and workability arguments that have been made by critics of the EPA rule proposal under the Clean Air Act.

Some parts of the fossil fuel industry and politicians will “howl at the process” and “say the sky is falling.” They have been proven wrong in the past, Doniger said.

“The industry and its political allies cry wolf as they always do,” Doniger said. There is a lot of “hype” about timetables. NRDC believes the timetable is already “generous,” Doniger said.

During the call, NRDC Senior Attorney John Moore cited the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) as an entity that has already laid much groundwork for compliance. MISO “has already approved billions of dollars of transmission projects” to bring more wind to market,” Moore said.

“We can do a lot by 2020,” Doniger said. The EPA Clean Power proposal has already paid dividends by way of helping secure the recent China agreement, Doniger said.

“We want the targets to reflect all of this potential that’s out there,” especially in renewables and efficiency.

During the question-and-answer session, NRDC officials indicated the organization was open to more equal treatment of all non-CO2 emitting power sources – including hydro and nuclear energy.

The Sierra Club also issued a statement largely supportive of the EPA proposal.

“Today we submit extensive legal and technical comments to the EPA to provide them with a detailed map for a stronger, more just Clean Power Plan,” said Joanne Spalding, Chief Climate Counsel at the Sierra Club. “We stand strong with the 8 million Americans who have submitted supportive comments, asking the EPA to protect American jobs and communities by supporting the rapid transition to a clean energy economy.”

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.