Monthly Archives: March 2012

EPA to issue new coal emissions rules

–According to WaPo, EPA is getting ready as early as today (March 27) to issue new emissions rules for coal plants (including emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2, which the EPA’s authority to regulate is still unclear) that would, according to some observers, virtually ban new coal plant construction.

The new guidelines would not affect existing plants. Cheap natural gas has done as much as EPA to stop coal, as some observers note.

Coal permit court decision praised

The EPA lost a major court decision in U.S. District Court when it ruled that EPA’s reversal of a Corps of Engineers permit for an Arch Coal mountaintop mine had no support in law.

This decision comes on the heels of last week’s loss for EPA in the Supreme Court when it ruled that a couple had standing to sue EPA. The agency had blocked their building on their own property in Idaho because it was near a lake, thus “wetlands” in EPA’s eyes.

The Supreme Court did not rule on the earlier case’s substance. But it noted the currently muddled and unclear definition of “wetland”–a definition that the Court itself did nothing to clarify in rulings in 2002 and 2006. This is an issue that concerns maritime interests. In his opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote: “The reach of the Clean Water Act is notoriously unclear… ny piece of land that is wet at least part of the year is in danger of being classified by EPA employees as wetlands covered by the act, and according to the federal government, if property owners begin to construct a home on a lot that the agency thinks possesses the requisite wetness, the property owners are at the agency’s mercy.”

The problem with EPA’s authority is that it could impose crippling costs–hundreds of thousands of dollars–in fines on property owners before the merits of its case even came to be adjudicated in any forum. Until now, that is—and the couple had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to change this.

Perhaps this ruling will prove to be a check to unaccountable and irresponsible power.

Lower Mississippi Dredging progressing; gas prices affected?

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on the progress of Lower Mississippi River dredging, which is beginning to somewhat ease the situation–although it may be months before the lower river begins to approach its authorized dimensions. The story quotes many river leaders.

Here’s something that should grab attention: “And on the import side, crude oil destined for refineries along the Mississippi River would be impacted, likely causing gasoline prices to rise slightly, according to the Big River Coalition’s economic report.”