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Power sector rips Biden climate proposal

A major lobbying and advocacy group for electric companies is pushing back on the Biden administration’s proposed climate regulations for power plants. 

In comments released this week, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rethink how it will go about trying to reduce climate pollution from electricity. 

In particular, the group’s official comment to the EPA raises concerns about the technologies on which it is proposing to base emission cuts. 

Under the EPA’s proposal, existing coal plants would be required to reduce their emissions by 90 percent based on the potential of emission-capturing technology.  New natural gas plants and some existing gas plants would be required to either carry out the same cuts or run mostly on hydrogen energy. 

The EEI said the carbon capture and hydrogen energy technologies on which the rule is based are not “not deployable, available, or affordable across the entirety of the industry.”

The group also raised concerns about the agency’s approach to existing natural gas plants, saying they should be more flexible and that its decision to only regulate the biggest plants could result in those plants producing less power.

In addition, the group said the plans for existing gas plants were not adequately justified and the agency should either buttress or redo them. 

“The vast majority of EPA’s analysis to identify units to which to apply the existing source guidelines appears to be a single chart focusing on a subset of identified units that have historically been dispatched at capacity factors of 50 percent or greater,” the EEI said. 

Asked to respond, an EPA spokesperson defended the proposed rule in an email to The Hill, saying it is based on “proven and cost-effective control technologies that can be applied directly to power plants.”

“The proposed limits and guidelines also provide power plants with ample lead time and substantial compliance flexibilities, allowing power companies and grid operators to make sound long-term planning and investment decisions, and supporting the power sector’s ability to continue delivering reliable and affordable electricity,” the spokesperson said. 

They also said that last month, the agency released additional modeling to supplement the proposal. 

In anticipation of the lobbying groups’ comments, climate advocates wrote a letter to executives at the EEI’s member companies last week urging them to push back on the group’s stance. 

“Your company has barely a week to decide whether to stand on the right side of history by committing to publicly support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) common-sense standards controlling greenhouse gas pollution from coal and gas power plants,” the letter said. 

The electric sector is responsible for a quarter of the U.S.’s contribution to climate change. The EPA’s ability to regulate it was hampered by a Supreme Court decision last year, which did not take away the agency’s ability to regulate, but said it could not explicitly mandate a shift to renewables. 

Source: The Hill

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