By MARK DRAJEM
Refiners, paper makers and steel producers have taken aim at
a proposal from the Environment
al Protection Agency to
limit greenhouse gases from power plants, saying they worry
it sets a dangerous precedent for them.
Lobbying groups told the EPA in comments released this week
that the agency is going beyond whats feasible with
current tools in requiring new coal plants to capture carbon
gases. Once EPA finishes rules for power plants, the top
source of carbon
tied to climate change,
it has pledged to move to other major emitters.
EPA must fundamentally rethink and rework this
proposal, Ross Eisenberg, vice president for the
National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, said on
a conference call. This rule would pose a bad precedent
for other industries.
The group, representing companies such as General Electric
(GE) and Caterpillar, is spearheading a drive by 140
organizations, including those for makers of chemicals,
steel, bricks and fertilizer, in lobbying against the
EPAs climate effort.
The administration of President Barack Obama is pressing
ahead with efforts to limit greenhouse gases blamed by
scientists for global warming. The heart of that effort are
regulations from the EPA on power plants. In September the
agency proposed rules for new power plants, on which NAM
filed comments. EPA is set to issue the more far-reaching
rules for existing power plants next month.
While restrictions on emissions
of sulfur dioxide and
other pollutants have been in place for years, these will be
the first for gases most blamed for climate change.
Under the EPAs proposal, new coal-fired plants would
to 1,100 pounds of
carbon dioxide for each megawatt hour of power they produce,
a standard that cant be met without carbon
. Most gas plants would
need to meet a 1,000 pound standard, which wont require
Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Earthjustice
have organized the submissions of thousands of petitions in
support of the EPA proposal, saying the action is needed to
start addressing the risk of rising seas, stronger droughts
and melting glaciers. They say the technology
is already being put to
use, and will help preserve a place for coal in the future.
Coal producers and representatives of utilities such as
Southern Co. oppose the EPAs proposal, saying the technology
to capture the carbon
feasible and ready for the market, and the rules arent
in place to govern the storage of the gas once its captured.
Lobbyists from other industries are offering a slightly
different twist on this argument: If EPA is willing to go
this far on coal plants, what will it do for those its
We provide these comments in part to identify the
myriad errors made in the proposed rule so that EPA does not
repeat those errors, the American Fuel & Petrochemical
(AFPM), a Washington group that represents companies such as
Tesoro and Valero, told the agency. Refiners may be next in
The American Farm Bureau, paper maker Domtar and Waste
Management made similar arguments in their comments.
The ultimate impacts of these regulations could extend
to the rest of the industrial economy, from refining
to manufacturing and
potentially agriculture, the American Farm Bureau
Federation told the agency.