This Week’s Air/Climate Smorgasbord

After a relatively quiet period, there were a number of items of interest on the air/climate front this week. First, AEP announced that upcoming pollution controls would result in shutting down 6,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity, or 25% of its coal fleet. AEP also announced that it would spend $6 billion to $8 billion in bringing the rest of its fleet into compliance.

On the flip side of this issue, the Bipartisan Policy Center issued a report concluding that compliance with the various EPA rules in the works (Clean Air Transport Rule, Utility MACT Rule, coal combustion ash rule, Clean Water Act intake structure rule, and NSPS for GHG) would not have a significant impact on electric system reliability. The quick summary is that most of the plants that will close are uncontrolled, older, smaller, plants that already don’t run much, particularly with natural gas prices low. The report acknowledges that some of these small plants are important in addressing peak loads in some areas, but concludes that concerns in those areas can be addressed with appropriate planning.

Next came news that EPA has reached agreement to delay its second round GHG NSPS proposal from July 26, 2011 to September 30, 2011 – though the final rule is still targeted for May 26, 2012. EPA has received extensive comment on this issue and my take is that there is no hidden agenda here; EPA is just trying to take those comments into account and be responsive, where possible.

Finally, former Representative Bob Inglis, whose support for action on climate change was sufficient to get him defeated by a Tea Party Candidate in the GOP primary in 2010, has announced formation of what is described as a “conservative coalition” to address climate change. Money quote:

Conservatives typically are people who try to be cognizant of risk and move to minimize risk. To be told of risk and to consciously decide to disregard it seems to be the opposite of conservative…. What I hope to do is be part of an effort that calls conservatives to return to conservatism and to turn away from the populist rejection of science.

All I can say is that I wish former Representative Inglis the best of luck in that endeavor.

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