Timing to Review the Power Plant Emissions Rule Pure Coincidence?

August 10, 2012 J

EPA seems to have noticed that there’s a presidential election coming up, and that their rules are tremendously unpopular.  Recently EPA issued a press release saying it would “reconsider the standards” it placed on coal-fired power plants earlier this year.  Is it purely coincidental that the controversial and costly Utility MACT Rule is now being reconsidered by the agency?

Over the last few years, the EPA has been on a mission, issuing a continuous flow of stringent and highly unpopular environmental regulations as part of its “War on Coal.”  Although each regulation has received an unprecedented amount of press, no regulation has received quite as much attention as its Utility MACT Rule.  After all, the rule will cost $10-$20 billion a year, kill thousands of jobs, and result in a loss of over 34 GW of electrical generating capacity.

Congress held multiple hearings on the effects of the rule, the EPA received 960,000 public comments on the rule, and there have even been several attempts to stop or postpone the rule using a variety of tools Congress has available to it.  And yet, even with all of that, the EPA refused to budge even one little bit!

Now, at a time when unemployment numbers are spiking, the President’s approval rating is teetering, and regulations are coming under attack in Congress (the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, a package of several bills aimed at reforming the regulatory process, are being considered), the EPA’s administrator has decided that the EPA will reconsider the Utility MACT rule with “an expedited, open and transparent process that includes public comment on any proposed changes.”

The rulemaking is expected to be completed by March 2013. By this time the President could be reelected, or a new president will have already been inaugurated. That means the Obama administration will receive all the good publicity they need by the time the new rule is finalized, and should Obama come under attack for his radical administration’s regulations, he will point to this moment, claiming his administration actually does take the public’s voice into consideration.

Don’t be fooled! The EPA is simply making a political move to protect the President from criticism by trying to prove his administration’s reasonableness in deciding to review this rule. But, according to the EPA’s own press release, the new rule isn’t likely to make any significant changes anyways: “The agency’s review will not change the types of state-of-the-art pollution controls new power plants are expected to use…”

The administration had their chance to stop this harmful rule, but they chose to ignore the voice of reason until they found a way to exploit it for their gain.

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