President Bush may have been willing to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant and that EPA must regulate it, but as the clock runs out on Bush's presidency, the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) signaled the end of the Bush era this morning and the beginning of a clean energy future.
The EPA has continued to issue clean-air permits to coal-fired power plants without requiring those plants to use the best available technology to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. One such plant is a project called the Bonanza Generating Station, a 110-MW waste-coal facility being proposed by Deseret Power Electric Cooperative. The Bonanza plant would have emitted 3.37 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups appealed this permit to the Environmental Appeals Board.
The EAB ruled today that the EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants. The decision means that all new and proposed coal plants nationwide must go back and address their carbon dioxide emissions. This puts an effective hold on the final permitting of almost all new coal plants until the Obama administration decides on the best available control technology for CO2 emissions from coal plants.
"Today's decision opens the way for meaningful action to fight global warming and is a major step in bringing about a clean energy economy," said Joanne Spalding, the Sierra Club senior attorney who argued the case. "This is one more sign that we must begin repowering, refueling, and rebuilding America.
"The EAB rejected every Bush Administration excuse for failing to regulate the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. This decision gives the Obama administration a clean slate to begin building our clean energy economy for the 21st century."