Red Alert - CO2 As Air Toxic Petition to EPA is Ripe
By Fred Palmer, Senior Fellow – CO2 Policy, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and Leader Saving US Coal
March 22, 2021 - On April 3, 2019 dozens of environmental groups led by Food and Water Watch filed a petition seeking a declaration that CO2 will be regulated as an Air Toxic under section 112 of the Clean Air Act. Air toxics are also regarded as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) under the Act. The petition will be two years old next week; the group filing the petition is now in a position to demand action by EPA and failing action to seek a judicial order to require EPA to act.
In recognition of the serious threat to coal use the Air Toxic petition represents, Saving US Coal filed a Petition for Summary Dismissal by email on April 21, 2020 with EPA staff. As the coronavirus pandemic was in full throat late Winter and Spring, all EPA filings were either hand delivered or emailed to staff at the Ronald Reagan Building.
Here is the CoalZoom article from last year describing our filing. In it you will find embedded a link to the filing. Too, a link to our first EPA repeal CO2 Endangerment filing of March 9, 2020 is also included in the article.
Currently CO2 as an EPA criteria pollutant is subject to Best Available Control Technology, or BACT. In that context the argument has been centered on whether EPA can regulate based on a CO2 budget on a statewide basis or only “inside the fence“ at the power plant. The Supreme Court stay of the Obama Clean Power Plan clearly said regulation cannot be statewide budget based and must be plant specific.
But CO2 as an Air Toxic or HAP clearly changes the game as BACT requires severe regulation of really bad pollutants. As BACT takes economics heavily into account, unworkable standards like carbon capture and storage are not a regulatory option. The HAP standard, however, is much more stringent and arguably requires plant closures or fuel switching. In today’s economic environment this would simply mean no more coal plants. And of course, that is exactly why the CO2 as Air Toxic or HAP filing has been made by the environmental community.
If EPA doesn’t respond to the Food and Water Watch petition expect an appeal to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to require EPA consideration. Could EPA actually brand CO2, a benign gas essential to human life an Air Toxic? In effect isn’t the President, the DOE and the other agencies pursuing the Social Cost of Carbon saying it is?
And by the way, the rumor mill says the SCC number is headed up from the current $51/ton to $80 plus. Adios natural gas too?!
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