EPA Gives Power Plants, Oil Refineries Deadline to Clean Up

coal plant smokestacks


Congress may have failed to pass a comprehensive climate bill, but that isn’t stopping the Environmental Protection Agency from making some aggressive rules of its own. The EPA announced this week that it will propose a set of new standards for oil refineries and power plants by next July, under the Clean Air Act.

As part of the EPA’s plan, standards for power plants will be proposed by July
2011, and confirmed by May 2012. Standards for oil
refineries will be proposed by December of next year, and issued in complete
form by November of 2012.

The EPA has only offered dates, not the actual regulations. But that hasn’t stopped organizations on both sides of the fence from voicing their opinions. Unsurprisingly, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association is opposed to the idea. “Regulations can’t create
technology that doesn’t exist or change the laws of physics and
economics, so the only way to comply with EPA’s proposals would be to
inflict massive increases in energy costs and massive increases in
unemployment on families across our nation,” said Charles T. Drevna, president of NPRA, in a statement.

The NRDC, on the other hand, is supportive of the plan. “The EPA’s forthcoming standards will be based on
available and affordable measures to clean up the two industries
responsible for the most pollution that drives climate change,” said David Doniger, Policy Director, NRDC Climate Center, in a statement. “Clear
pollution control standards also will help these industries plan future
investments, fuel the economic recovery, and create jobs.”

In California, polluters will get hit doubly hard–first with the EPA standards, and then with the country’s first major cap and trade system. So while a climate bill isn’t in the cards, there are still incentives for power plants, oil refineries, and other industrial polluters to shape up.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.