The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Standards of  Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, is a fatally flawed rule. The rule is facially arbitrary and capricious because it purports to deal with climate change, but according to the rule itself, does not reduce greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions.

Because the rule does not reduce carbon dioxide emissions, this means that EPA’s limitation on the rate of emissions from power plants is arbitrary. It does not matter if these new source standards are implemented or not, the result will be the same with respect to climate change according to EPA’s benefits analysis.

EPA claims that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the best system of emission reduction for coal-fired power plants, but this claim is fatally flawed. The recently released National Climate Assessment explains that CCS is an experimental technology and many issues such as cost and environmental impact remain outstanding.

EPA arbitrarily requires CCS for coal, but not for natural gas. This is despite the fact that a report that EPA cites repeatedly states that the cost of electricity generated from natural gas plant equipped with CCS is less expensive than a coal plant equipped with CCS. EPA’s decision is impermissible and arbitrary. EPA is correct not to require CCS for natural gas, but EPA should be consistent and not require CCS for coal-fired power plants.

Lastly, in EPA’s regulatory impact analysis, EPA used the social cost of carbon. The social cost of carbon is impermissibly arbitrary and should not be used in regulatory analyses.

These performance standards are arbitrary standards. EPA should withdraw this rule and only impose standards if the standards will have a perceptible impact on the climate change factors, such as heat waves, precipitation events, and storm surges that EPA is concerned about.

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