By Michael Bastasch, DCNF
This year is already seeing a wave of new regulations being published in the Federal Register as the Obama administration unveils 300 new rules in the first seven days of 2015, according to federal data.
Federal agencies have published 300 final rules, proposals for new rules and regulatory notices in the seven days since the new year began, according to the website Regulations.gov. The bulk of these new regulations are notices, which can lead to rulemakings, meetings and other government activities.
Rules having to do with energy, environment, public lands and agriculture make up the largest share of new regulations. Included in these new rules are proposed EPA air quality standards for lead, reforming coal and oil leases on Indian lands and adjustments for the total amount of fish people can catch off Alaska’s coast.
One major rule that has not been finalized yet, however, is the EPA’s carbon dioxide emissions limits for new power plants. The rule was set to be finalized by Thursday, but the agency announced Wednesday it would be pushed back until mid-summer 2015.
“This is all about the best policy outcome, and the appropriate policy outcome,” Janet McCabe, EPA’s acting clean air administrator, told reporters on Wednesday. “That is what we are talking about here, and that is why we think it is important to finalize these rules in the same time frame.”
EPA’s rule would limit the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted by newly built coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. But the power plant rule has been attacked by critics because it sets the carbon dioxide threshold for coal plants so low the only way operators can meet the standard is by using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
CCS has been touted by the Obama administration and the environmentalists as the best solution for coal plants, but the technology has yet to be used on a commercial scale without the help of government subsidies.
Republicans and the coal industry have challenged the legality of EPA’s de facto CCS mandate, saying requiring coal plants to install subsidized technology violates federal law. But the EPA insists the rule is legally sound.
Sources within the EPA have previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation that EPA is scrambling to protect its carbon rule for new power plants as lawmakers and watchdog groups continue to find problems with the agency’s reasoning for mandating CCS.
In arguing that CCS was viable technology, the EPA relied on a major project in Mississippi called Kemper. But Kemper has been beset by huge cost overruns and delays, hurting the agency’s argument that the technology is workable. Kemper was also given a $270 million grant by the Obama administration and will be eligible for $279 million in tax credits when it begins operation.
The plant’s opening date, however, has been pushed from June 2015 to March 2016 and additional delays could cost $20 to $30 million a month.