The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, citing Richard Revesz’s work with co-author Jonathan Nash on “grandfathering” power plants, recently reversed a district court order and sided with the EPA in its case against DTE Energy Corp. The court ruled that the Clean Air Act grants the EPA the power to review projections of future emissions resulting from a facility modification without having to wait for data from the completed project.
Although the court ruled in the EPA’s favor, it took issue with the agency’s argument that New Source Review is a program designed to force every source to eventually adopt modern emissions control technology. Judges John Rogers and Martha Craig Daughtrey cited Revesz’s Northwestern University Law Journal article on grandfathering in the majority opinion, stating that current regulations actually allow plants to “replace parts indefinitely without losing their grandfathered status so long as none of those changes cause an emissions increase.”
The case and the court’s decision bring to light the contradictory nature of the EPA’s new source regulations and the ways in which they can distort the economic considerations that companies face when deciding whether to construct new plants or invest in cleaner technologies.
Issue(s): Energy and Environment
Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Chugach National Forest advocating for the use of cost-benefit analysis in the revision of the forest’s Resource Management Plan. The US Forest Service updated its rule last year on how individual forests should develop their management plans, eliminating an explicit requirement to study the net present value of management alternatives. The forests, though, were left with some discretion, which we think forests like Chugach should use to incorporate cost-benefit analysis into their planning.
Our comments advice the forest staff to incorporate systematic economic analysis into its planning process. Using cost-benefit analysis would help to ensure that the final plan is in compliance with the statutory framework, is most effectively making use of the structured decisionmaking framework envisioned by the new Rule, and is setting a good example for other forests looking to revise their plans.
Policy Integrity is winding down its energy tax breaks wiki after over a year of compiling the expertise of lawyers, economists, tax professionals, and concerned citizens to catalog tax breaks received by the fossil and renewable energy industries.
The site will stay up as a reference point for information on 2012 tax breaks, many of which remain active. For further and more up-to-date data, we refer you to the OECD’s Inventory of Estimated Budgetary Support and Tax Expenditures for Fossil Fuels 2013 , a report detailing more than 550 fossil-fuel support measures in the 34 OECD member countries. The Energy Department’s website also contains a collective list of tax credits, rebates, and savings.
Issue(s): Energy and Environment
Policy Integrity submitted a petition today urging the EPA to fulfill its obligation under Section 115 of the Clean Air Act to instruct all fifty states to cut greenhouse gas emissions. If EPA ignores or denies the petition, Policy Integrity can pursue appropriate legal action to force the agency to respond.
The legal threshold requiring EPA action has been met and surpassed; as both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and EPA have already acknowledged, U.S. emissions contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas concentrations, which will likely impact extreme weather events, food production, infectious disease, water scarcity, coastal erosion, and economic development across every continent.
EPA’s duty under Section 115 is to require states to revise their Clean Air Act implementation plans to control their dangerous greenhouse gas pollution by making reasonable progress toward abatement. EPA should also advise states on their options for implementation under Section 115, including flexible regulatory tools like markets.
Additionally, Title VI of the Clean Air Act creates a potentially mandatory obligation for comprehensive control of greenhouse gases. And as a third-best option, EPA can continue issuing and even broadening greenhouse gas standards under Section 111. However, Section 115 is best suited to controlling emissions and provides the strongest legal foundation for regulatory action.
We urge the President to follow up on his State of the Union pledge to address climate change. Section 115 provides a powerful legal tool to do so and to regulate pollution that negatively affects international public health and welfare.
Policy Integrity submitted an amicus brief in conjunction with the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic and the Harvard Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic in support of the EPA for a federal court case challenging the agency’s proposed standards to curb mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants. Some industry groups are contesting the EPA’s “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from Coal and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units” (otherwise known as the MATS rule) finalized last year.
Our brief evaluated the EPA’s calculations of the MATS rule’s benefits in its regulatory impact analysis. We confirmed that administrative law and best economic practices support the EPA’s methodology for incorporating indirect benefits and assessment of significant unquantifiable benefits, and ultimately the rule is justified by economic analysis showing benefits to far outweigh the costs of compliance.