EPA Delivers an Early Christmas Present to Electricity Generators and Refiners — New Source Performance Standards for GHGs

Today, EPA announced settlements of litigation with states and environmental groups which will require EPA to promulgate New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas emissions from electric generating units and refineries. EPA will thus give those of us who practice in this area an opportunity to decide which program we find more cumbersome and ill-suited to regulate GHGs, the PSD/NSR program or the NSPS program.

As with the PSD/NSR regulations, I remain sympathetic to EPA in that, once you take Massachusetts v. EPA as a given, and if you accept the logic of the Endangerment Finding, then it is difficult to see how EPA can avoid these regulations. Moreover, EPA has described its expected set of performance standards as “modest” – though modesty, of course, is in the eyes of the beholder. 

Nonetheless, it’s not surprising that opponents of GHG regulation see this as another stick in the eye. Here is what Senator Murkowski’s spokesman, Robert Dillon, had to say:

The administration used the threat of EPA regulations as a cudgel to force Congress to pass cap and trade. It was a strategy that failed.  You’ve opened Pandora’s box now. You’ve let the agency loose with these new regulations when they’re interpreting the law.

Of course, it’s EPA’s job to interpret the law. That doesn’t make me happy about it.

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