In a landmark action, the Environmental Protection Agency’s final decision-making board has ruled that all new and proposed coal-fired power plants must have their carbon dioxide emissions regulated. The Environmental Appeals Board ruled today that the EPA has no valid reason for refusing to place limits on the global warming emissions from Desert Power’s proposed 110-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Vernal, Utah.
Deseret Power’s Bonanza Generating Station would have emitted 3.37 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. In July 2007, the EPA issued a permit for the plant, ignoring the Clean Air Act’s stipulation that all such permits must include a “best-available control technology” emissions limit for each pollutant “subject to regulation under the Act.” Before the Sierra Club brought suit, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform opened an investigation into the EPA’s decision, saying:
It is reckless to approve a huge coal-fired power plant with no global warming emission controls. This one massive plant will negate the emissions reductions being implemented by the Northeastern states in the first mandatory regional program to cut global warming pollution. The Administration’s shameful decision rewards polluters, flouts the Clean Air Act, and fails the American people.
Joanna Spalding, the Sierra Club attorney who successfully argued the case, delivered this statement:
Today’s decision opens the way for meaningful action to fight global warming and is a major step in bringing about a clean energy economy. This is one more sign that we must begin repowering, refueling and rebuilding America. The EAB rejected every Bush Administration excuse for failing to regulate the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. This decision gives the Obama Administration a clean slate to begin building our clean energy economy for the 21st century.
The 69-page decision described the Bush administration’s arguments as “weak,” “questionable,” “not sustainable,” and “not sufficient,” and rebuked EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson for failing to issue CO2 regulations, repeatedly recommending an “action of nationwide scope.”