With the new proposed rules by the United States Environmental Protection Agency related to section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act, many states have questions about what the rule means for their state.  The session addressed the questions state leaders need to ask to have a better understanding of how the rule affects their state’s businesses, citizens and energy future. 

Law and not policy is supposed to be the basis upon which courts decide cases.  Yet the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding permitting stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases is full of as much policy as law.  The Court’s bottom line is this:  The burdens on the states of giving EPA everything it wants are simply too much.

The Clean Air Act regulates pollution-generating emissions from stationary source (factories, power plants, etc.) and moving sources (cars, trucks, planes, etc.).  In 2007 in Massachusetts v. EPA the Court held EPA could regulate greenhouse gases emissions from new motor vehicles.  As a result of that case, EPA concluded it was required or permitted to apply permitting requirements to all stationary sources that emitted greenhouse gases in excess of statutory thresholds. 

In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA the Court held 5-4 that EPA cannot require stationary sources to obtain Clean Air Act permits only because they emit greenhouse gases.  But, the Court concluded 7-2, EPA may require “anyway” stationary sources, which have to obtain permits based on their emissions of other pollutants, to comply with “best available control technology” BACT emission standards for greenhouse gases. 

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fter the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes rules on reducing carbon emissions in mid-2015, states will have a year to develop a plan for reduction.

The goal is to reduce the “pollution to power ratio of covered fossil fuel-fired power plants in a given state,” Janet McCabe, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in a blog post explaining the rules.

CSG Director of Energy and Environmental Policy Brydon Ross outlines the top five issues for 2014, including upcoming Clean Air state implementation plans, EPA cooling water intake regulations, increased scrutiny on crude oil transportation safety, potential rate and policy disputes involving net metering, and lingering impacts that drought may pose for states and water infrastructure.  

Last term the Supreme Court heard two Clean Water Act case.  This term the Court has accepted two significant Clean Air Act (CAA) cases—one involving regulating upwind states who pollute downwind states and the other involving regulating greenhouse gases from stationary sources.  Both cases involve states siding with or against the EPA and each other.  The Supreme Court agreed to hear the latter case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, earlier this month. 

Tesla Motors, the makers of high-end electric vehicles, is expected to post its first ever profit due in large part to an environmental credit program managed by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) under the Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate. Under the regulation, 15 percent of all new car sales in California must come from vehicles classified as "zero emission" by 2025. According to Wall Street analysts, the ARB's credit program could be worth up to $250 million for Tesla.

The EPA recently announced that US greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) dropped 1.6% from 2010 to 2011, which continues a downward trend that observers believe is due in large part to increasing vehicle fuel economy standards and the large fuel-switching underway by electric utilities from burning coal to natural gas.

CSG Director of Energy and Environmental Policy Brydon Ross outlines the top five issues for 2013, including the future of coal, Clean Water Act legal actions, energy infrastructure hardening, managing the energy wave, and EPA air regulations. 


An interesting article was featured in today's Billings Gazette covering the increase in natural gas "flaring" occurring at oil wells and other tight formations in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. Flaring essentially burns off excess natural gas that cannot be captured or transported from the wellhead to a storage facility due to a lack of pipeline infrastructure. It is one the few related aspects of hydraulic fracturing, which has brought about huge swaths of oil and natural gas production, that receives minor attention by the public. 

The Environmental Protection Agency in December 2011 issued new stringent regulations called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, Rule to limit mercury emissions and other hazardous substances from fossil fuel power plants. The standards have been controversial because of industry concerns with costs and grid reliability. The EPA, however, contends the standards are reasonable, provide billions of dollars in public health benefits and will prevent thousands of premature deaths.