• EPA Allows Groups More Time To Comment On Its 730-Page CO2 Plan

    Bowing to pressure from a wide range of interest groups, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it would be extending the time groups have to comment on its controversial “Clean Power Plan” by 45 days.

    The rule itself is 130 pages long and contains more than 600 pages of additional documents, making it a mountain for states and other stakeholders to claw through in just 120 days.

    “Because of the strong amount of interest we’ve seen from stakeholders we’re extending the public comment period for the rule by 45 days,” Janet McCabe, the acting head of the EPA’s air and radiation office, told reporters on a conference call. “We’re still working towards a June deadline to finish up the rule.”

    When asked why the agency chose a 45-day extension to the already 120-day comment period for the CPP, McCabe told reporters it seemed “like a reasonable amount of time to add to that fairly extensive comment period.”

    The was welcomed by industry groups and states who have been seeking an a comment period extension for the EPA’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

    “While we are heartened that EPA listened to the overwhelming outcry by consumers and lawmakers alike to extend the public comment period, the fact remains that the agency’s proposed regulations are among the costliest our country has ever seen,” said Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “The consequences of EPA’s proposal will leave American businesses and consumers footing a bill they can ill-afford.”

    “Worse yet, even with the additional time for comment, the administration is giving every indication it will push its climate agenda forward to meet a politically driven time-line,” Duncan added. “Considering how fundamentally flawed these regulations are, EPA could save all involved a lot of time, money and economic hardship if it just withdrew its proposal altogether.”

    Last week, a bipartisan group of 53 U.S. senators asked the EPA to extend the comment period for the CPP because of the “complexity and sweeping scope” of the rule — a rule which was accompanied by 600 pages of additional documentation.

    The Obama administration has also been petitioned by thirteen attorneys general and fifteen governors, asking the EPA repeal its proposed rule to limit carbon dioxide from power plants.

    McCabe called global warming the “greatest environmental threat we face” and stressed that the EPA wanted to make its carbon dioxide emissions rule “practical, flexible and achievable.”

    The CPP forces states to come up with plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions from their energy sectors by either making power plants more efficient, using more natural gas, deploying more green energy or reducing energy use — or any combination of the four. There are currently some legal questions about how the EPA will be able to get states to comply, but McCabe stressed that fighting global warming will end up being good for states and the economy.

    “Climate action doesn’t dull America’s competitive edge, it sharpens it,” McCabe said, citing the fact that federal rules have helped reduce traditional air pollutants by 70 percent while the U.S. economy continued to grow.

    But critics of the plan note that carbon dioxide is not a traditional pollutant — in fact, it’s not a pollutant at all as it does not directly harm human health. More importantly, actions taken in the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide will be outweighed by expansions of fossil fuel use in developing countries, like China and India.

    The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that carbon dioxide emissions could increase “from 31.2 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36.4 billion metric tons in 2020 and 45.5 billion metric tons in 2040” — mostly due to increasing emissions from developing countries.

    EIA projections show that developing nations, especially in Asia, “account for 94 percent of the total increase in world carbon dioxide emissions from 2010 to 2040” adding that “China’s emissions grow by an average of 2.1 percent per year and account for 69 percent of the increase for non-OECD Asia and 49 percent of the total world increase in carbon dioxide emissions.”

    “India’s emissions increase by 2.3 percent per year, and emissions in the rest of non-OECD Asia increase by an average of 1.9 percent per year,” EIA notes. “The increases in non-OECD Asia, particularly China, are led by coal-related carbon dioxide emissions, and emissions from natural gas and liquid fuels use also increase substantially.”

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