EPA Deseret ruling

From Global Energy Monitor

On November 13, 2008, the US EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) ruled that the EPA has no valid reason for failing to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants.[1] The Sierra Club filed suit against the EPA in October 2007 to challenge the permitting of the Bonanza Power Plant addition, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA has argued that that ruling gave it the authority to regulate emissions from mobile sources, such as cars, but not from stationary sources such as power plants.[2] During the hearing, the Sierra Club's attorneys argued that Bonanza's air permit should be rescinded because it fails to require controls for the millions of tons of CO2 emissions that the plant would produce each year.[3]

The EAB sided with the Sierra Club, declaring that because the Supreme Court ruling defined carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, new coal-fired power plants must implement "Best Available Control Technology" (BACT) for CO2. According to the board, this is "an issue of national scope that has implications far beyond this individual permitting process."[4] Environmentalists and lawyers representing industry groups claim the ruling will have a national effect and may stop the permitting of numerous coal plants,[5] putting in question as many as 100 permits, including some being considered and others under appeal.[6] David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club, said, "It's minimum a one- to two-year delay for every proposed coal-fired power plant in the United States.”[7]



  1. "Ruling: Coal Plants Must Limit C02," Sierra Club, November 13, 2008.
  2. EPA, Sierra Club At Odds Over Power Plant Project, Deseret News, September 16, 2007.
  3. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed January 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  4. "Utah coal plant permit blocked by EPA panel",H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press, November 13, 2008.
  5. "A Freeze on New U.S. Coal Plants?", Brian Walsh, Time, November 13, 2008.
  6. Mitch Weiss,"Environmentalists try to stop NC coal-fired plant," Forbes, November 18, 2008.
  7. Kate Galbraith, "EPA Decision Signals Trouble for Coal," New York Times, 11/14/08

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